Embarking on Recovery: When Does Stigma End? Investigating the Experiences of Discrimination and How These Affect Aspirations in Recovery From Substance Misuse

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Ahead of Print. Background: Research into the impact of stigma and discrimination occurring while in treatment and recovery from substance abuse has reported that participants experience discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and health care. Further research has suggested that there is increased anticipation of discrimination in these areas. Studies reported that fear of discrimination can impact on an individual’s willingness to disclose information about their addiction and recovery. Aim: The aim of the study is to fill a gap within current knowledge by exploring how experiences of stigma and discrimination impact on individuals’ aspirations in recovery from substance abuse. Method: A purposive sample of seven participants were recruited to take part in semistructured interviews, from which data were recorded for analysis using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Findings: Three superordinate and 10 subordinate themes were highlighted through analysis: “Forever an Addict,” “The Broken Social Contract,” and “A New Social Identity.” Conclusion: The findings of the study raise issues in the current approach to supporting those in recovery and suggest that there is a need for increased awareness and education at various levels in society.