Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Experiences of individuals who maintain abstinence from mood altering substances using self-directed, cognitive-based recovery support groups
by Kitzinger, Robert Henry, Jr., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2013, 181; 3563187
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine how individuals who utilize self-directed recovery support groups perceive the recovery process and how the described experiences of participants compare to 12-step recovery as reported in existing academic literature. Six individuals who have maintained sobriety for a minimum of one year participated in this qualitative study. The individuals also participated in SMART Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety or Women for Sobriety within the past year, and did not participate in 12-step support groups for at least one year prior to the study's approval date. Data collection included a demographic form and one 60-90 minute, audio-recorded interview, during which participants were asked primarily open questions about their respective experiences in sobriety.

Data analysis consisted of a phenomenological procedure adapted from Moustakas (1994). The procedure revealed that participants perceive the recovery process as beginning with freedom and individual choice, continuing into a sense of community and belonging, proceeding with a journey of self-discovery, and culminating in the development of recovery maintenance tools. Participant experiences relate to 12-step recovery in terms of community and fellowship within recovery support groups. Participant experiences diverge from 12-step recovery in terms of spirituality and adherence to sequential steps or perceived programmatic rigidity. Participants maintain that sobriety is a "separate issue" and not necessarily related to spiritual/religious issues or to the attendance of recovery support group meetings.

The findings suggest that individuals who use support groups such as SMART Recovery, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, and Women for Sobriety maintain abstinence through face-to-face or online support group meetings and by utilizing a variety of self-directed relapse prevention methods. Counselors are recommended to consider self-directed recovery support groups as a viable referral option for clients dealing with substance use issues. Further research is needed to gain more insight into how individuals use self-directed support groups and online recovery resources to maintain abstinence from mood altering substances.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lassiter, Pamela S.
Commitee: Culbreth, John R., Lambert, Richard, Merriweather, Lisa, Wierzalis, Edward
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: Counseling (PhD)
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-B 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Mood altering substances, Recovery support groups, Self-directed recovery
Publication Number: 3563187
ISBN: 9781303113222
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