Experience of recovery for female heroin addicts: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Laura Watson, Adrian Parke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In addiction research it is imperative to explore, not only motivations that precipitate drug use and abuse, but also the changes which take place in the social environment that enable individuals suffering from an addictive disorder to ‘break the cycle’ and reach a position of recovery. Therefore the main aims of the study were to explore the idiosyncratic experiences of female heroin addicts.

Five female participants were recruited. Open ended, semi-structured interviews were performed; their narratives were then analysed according to the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA; Smith et al. 1999). Three recurrent super-ordinate themes were developed including: childhood experiences, physiological and psychological effects and perceptions of recovery.
Our interpretation of the data suggests that the significant experiences of these women, as children, included: damaged relationships, unreasonable responsibilities, anxiety and victimisation. New relationships, new responsibilities and new opportunities appear to be significant motives in relation to attempting to reduce drug consumption. These findings are discussed in relation to the potential contributing factors for heroin addiction in women and their transition to recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-117
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Heroin
  • Recovery
  • Female


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