Reconstructing ‘the Alcoholic’: Recovering from Alcohol Addiction and the Stigma this Entails

  • Jodie V. Hill
  • Dawn Leeming


Public perception of alcohol addiction is frequently negative, whilst an important part of recovery is the construction of a positive sense of self. In order to explore how this might be achieved, we investigated how those who self-identify as in recovery from alcohol problems view themselves and their difficulties with alcohol and how they make sense of others’ responses to their addiction. Semi-structured interviews with six individuals who had been in recovery between 5 and 35 years and in contact with Alcoholics Anonymous were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The participants were acutely aware of stigmatising images of ‘alcoholics’ and described having struggled with a considerable dilemma in accepting this identity themselves. However, to some extent they were able to resist stigma by conceiving of an ‘aware alcoholic self’ which was divorced from their previously unaware self and formed the basis for a new more knowing and valued identity.


Alcohol Recovery Stigma Identity Qualitative Alcoholics Anonymous 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Strategic Planning DepartmentNHS LothianEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Department of Behavioural Sciences, School of Human and Health SciencesUniversity of HuddersfieldHuddersfieldUK

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