Exploring an agency-communion model of identity transformation in recovery from substance misuse

David Rowlands, Donna Youngs, David Canter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Narrative research shows that identity change is key to recovery from substance misuse. Theories have focused on either personal or social factors in this process. A framework encompassing Agency and Communion has been useful in understanding narratives in similar populations. Objectives: The study proposes that substance misuse and recovery can be understood from an Agency-Communion perspective. Method: The Life As A Film Task (LAAF) and repertory grids were used to explore Agency and Communion in a sample of 32 participants. Results: Smallest Space Analysis of LAAF items revealed four different narratives according to themes of Agency and Communion. Case examples indicated that Agency and Communion predicted a recovery identity, and the absence of Agency and Communion predicted substance misuse. Analysis of repertory grids showed fixed low Agency/Communion construct systems in cases of substance misuse and transformed high Agency/Communion construct systems in cases of recovery. Transformation from a low Agency/Communion substance-using identity toward a high Agency/Communion recovery identity was highlighted. Conclusions: These preliminary findings illustrate the role of Agency and Communion processes in identity-transforming recovery from substance misuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-272
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Substance Use
Issue number3
Early online date6 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


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