Themes of agency and communion and rehabilitation from substance misuse

David Rowlands, Donna Youngs, David Canter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Current models of identity transformation in substance misuse recovery emphasise either communal or agentic growth processes. Building on life narrative studies of addicted males, the present study proposes that agency and communion themes distinguish the narrative identities of rehabilitated substance users from active users. Method: The ‘Life as a Film' (LAAF) task was used to record narratives in an opportunity sample of 32 participants (23 males, 9 females) with ongoing or substance misuse history. Transcripts were coded for agency and communion, and external measures of rehabilitation were assessed using a recovery inventory. Results: Four types of narrative were revealed, according to the presence or absence of agency and communion themes in LAAF accounts. Analysis determined a significant correlation between descriptions of agency and communion and rehabilitation outcomes (0.91 - p < 0.01), showing that both identity themes are important to recovery. Participants illustrating either theme showed moderate outcomes and those depicting neither theme showed poor outcomes. Case studies were used to illustrate the instrumentality of agentic and communal growth to behavioural change. Conclusions: The LAAF method demonstrated value in a narrative approach for expanding current perspectives, indicating that both agency and communion shape identity transformation in recovery from substance misuse. These findings highlight unique intervention needs corresponding with presenting narrative identity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107611
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Early online date6 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Themes of agency and communion and rehabilitation from substance misuse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this