Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Amanda J Young
David Gray Matthews
The purpose of my research is twofold: to better understand the experience of living with an addict as communicated through family members' illness narratives, and to give addiction-affected family members a voice. A gap currently exists in the literature regarding the experience of the addiction-affected family, as well as mental health literacy and its role in addiction. To address this gap, I performed a phenomenological study of family members who have dealt with or who are dealing with an addict who is also perceived to have the dual diagnosis of mental illness. I recruited participants using chain referral sampling. Using in-depth, semi-structured interviews, I explored my research questions by interviewing nine people who are family members of an addict. My research questions focused on five areas: health and mental health literacy, social support, illness narratives, systems theory, and Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). I looked for two themes in my data (social support and health literacy) and the IPA process revealed two more (agency and keeping and revealing secrets). I borrowed from Arthur Frank's (1995) narrative typologies (Chaos, Restitution, and Quest narratives) to create a parallel set of narratives specific to the addiction-affected family (Crisis, Resolved, and Resilient narratives). I then used my new typolgies as a lens to better understand the themes that emerged from my participants' narratives and answer my research questions. I plan to use the information gained from this project to add scholarship to the discipline regarding mental health and addiction. My goal is to add a new dimension to the communication tools researchers and practitioners use to understand and equip family members in coping with the difficulties associated with addiction. I also plan to eventually plan to develop a literacy-based intervention to promote attendance as well as improve communication in support groups such as Al Anon.
dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Schaffer, Tracy Manning, "The Experience of the Addiction-Affected Family: A Communication Based Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 923.