‘Naught but a story’: Narratives of successful AA recovery

Weegmann, Martin; Piwowoz-Hjort, Ewa
October 2009
Health Sociology Review;Oct2009, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p273
Academic Journal
The study invited individuals who used AA groups and philosophy as the mainstay of their recovery to talk about their ongoing relationship to AA, with the aim of understanding the factors that have helped them to achieve and sustain change. Interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) was performed on nine transcribed interviews of participants who were continually sober from alcohol/drugs for a minimum of nine years (abstinence mean = 14 years). The method was used to discern themes and identify the concepts of recovery participants had found helpful. A number of themes are examined in the paper, including how subjects made sense of their addiction, initial appraisals of AA/NA meetings, concepts of acceptance and surrender, character change, spiritual change and evaluations of continuing progress. We argue that there are many roads to recovery from addiction and the ‘AA/Fellowship route’ offers a set of principles and narrative forms that have the attraction of consistency and coherency. The paper shows that as personal identity is continually construed, participants find that what can be called ‘Fellowship narratives’ and structures assist them greatly in appraising the past, re-building their lives and finding direction. In addition, spiritual and other values help them to effectively address and resolve key issues and self-governance. We propose that addiction services can benefit from incorporating more emphasis on the role of narratives, identity and values in the recovery process.


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