Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Social Work

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Prescription opioid use disorder (POUD) has been steadily rising in the United States since 1999 and is often accompanied by increases in heroin and synthetic opioid use, overdose deaths, and other adverse public health outcomes. Women in particular are at greater risk of developing POUD and associated outcomes. Even though high rates of mortality and morbidity are common among those with POUD, recovery is possible with nearly half of all individuals with POUD recovering naturally (i. e. , without formal or informal treatment). The natural recovery process from POUD has received little empirical attention. Using a grounded theory approach, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 16 women who had been in natural recovery from POUD (or similar substance use disorders) for at least one year to better understand how they spent their time post-POUD and what they did for pleasure and enjoyment without POUD in order to maintain their recovery. Using timelines, participants previous attempts at recovery were also explored in an effort to understand how these factors (i. e. , time spent and pleasurable/enjoyable activities) changed over time. The findings lend further support to the effectiveness of cognitive, motivational and behavioral strategies as helpful factors in maintaining recovery from POUD. The findings also generally support the idea that the creation and extension of individuals social support network is critical to all stages of the recovery process. These and other findings are discussed in the context of the broader substance use and natural recovery literature and with respect to implications for policy and practice.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Francis Drake

Committee Members

Kathleen K. Bucholz, Patrick J. Fowler, Melissa Jonson-Reid, Lee Ann Kaskutas,

Included in

Social Work Commons