Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Claire Michelle Rice

Second Advisor

Neil Katz

Third Advisor

Elena Bastidas


Opioid addiction is a physical, mental, and social issue. The insidious habits and behaviors acquired while living an addictive lifestyle are more powerful than human comprehension, and the training required to release these strongholds are extreme to say the least. Capturing the lived experiences of this process is needed to increase understanding of the development that leads to transformation from active addict to addict in recovery. This phenomenological research study on the treatment experience of opioid addicts used a qualitative approach to gain understanding of this phenomenon. For this study, 15 research participants were selected. Their ages ranged from 21 to 30-years-old and they all successfully completed an adult substance abuse treatment program. All participants must have been in active recovery for a minimum of one year. The central question for this study is: what are the intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts opioid addicts are presented with during their treatment process? By means of conducting and analyzing interview questions and utilizing the conflict resolution theories of human motivation, social identity theory, coordinated management of meaning theory, and relative deprivation theory, this study revealed that the overall essence of the treatment experience is the journey of identity transformation from active addict to addict in recovery through conflict management. The need to manage conflict in five specific areas was uncovered. They include identity formation, stigma, interpersonal relationships, group structure, and conflict styles. The participants’ shared experiences provide insight into identifying conflicts that need to be managed and resolved so recovery is achieved and sustained.