Relational parenthood in addiction recovery

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Aims: The purpose of this research was to elicit how parents attending family-focused substance abuse treatment construct their parenthood in relation to other people. Design: Relational parenthood of addiction treatment attendees is scrutinised from seven thematic interviews carried out in a community-based inpatient substance abuse treatment unit in Finland. The core analytical concept of the research is relationality. The data were first content coded via Atlas.ti22 and the relations and codes classified into the five following parenthood types emerging from the data: (1) worn-out; (2) coping; (3) ambivalent; (4) changing; and (5) supported. Content codes and parenthood types were cross-tabulated to ascertain how these types are emphasised in different relationships. Results: Worn-out and coping parenthood types emerged in the closest relationships, mostly with their own children and the other parent. Ambivalent parenthood was present in all relations as expressions of inner conflict, which can lead to changing parenthood. Changing parenthood emerged in relation to interviewees’ own children as an empowering experience. It also emerged in relation to other people as readiness to accept help. Supported parenthood was most often found in relation to significant others and professionals, presumably due to the context of the interviews. Conclusion: The parenthood types illustrate how parenting changes over time, which is also an important part of social identity change in recovering from addiction. In treatment, it is extremely important to understand the different sides of parenthood and to use the information to strengthen clients’ parenthood.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • addiction
  • parenthood
  • relation
  • substance abuse
  • treatment

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy

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