Time and change: A developmental model of young men’s recovery
Recovery from addiction encompasses dramatic changes in a person’s life. Amidst growing research on addiction recovery, little is known about the lived experience of young people who undergo such demanding challenges and how they sustain their resolution for self-change. In this presentation I will draw from an investigation on young men’s recovery and self-change from addiction. Having established the processes that sustained the participants’ successful rehabilitation, a developmental model of recovery will be proposed. Data collected from semi-structured interviews and written autobiographical accounts of 18 young men in recovery from addiction was subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. Their recovery consisted of a sequential progression of stages, each of which encompassing different psychosocial challenges and crises. Advancement through the stages was personal and not measurable by the length of time spent in recovery. The many participants presented similar processes of development even though they were working with diverse treatment programmes or indeed working alone through self-managed change. Early recovery is focused on maintaining abstinence; middle recovery is transitional and centred on developing a new basic life structure (i.e. job, housing, relationships); long-term recovery is marked by individual growth and a focus on life’s purpose and meaning. Through all stages, participants reappraised their sense of identity in light of their changing relational world. The proposed developmental model of recovery will provide a framework with which to assess the state of resolution of the recovering person; in this way we can see what assistance needs to be provided to support his or her journey towards a long-term and meaningful recovery.