New research published in Critical Social Work reveals that dominant understandings of recovery, such as maintaining abstinence, can be experienced by service users as oppressive.
The critical discourse analysis of qualitative interviews with individuals struggling with substance use issues in rural Ontario examined power dynamics inherent to discourse on substance addiction recovery. The author concludes by offering recommendations such as training and education to address stigma and implicit biases among clinicians and the inclusion of individuals experiencing substance abuse issues in research, policy development, clinical practice, and education.
Researcher Sandra R. McNeil of the University of Windsor writes:
“By shaping who should recover, how they should recover, and what recovery should look like, recovery discourse constitutes categories of inclusion and exclusion. Viewing substance use recovery through a critical lens exposes ideological values that perpetuate substance use stigma at micro and macro levels. Equally important are the numerous, intersecting forms of stigma related to race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, appearance, geography, and types of substance use that are capable of (de)constructing structural inequities.”