Year of Publication

2020

Date of Thesis

12-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Occupational Therapy

Abstract

There are macro and micro level impacts associated with substance use disorders ranging from significant spending by the United States government at a societal level, to changes in neuroanatomical structures and body functions, as well as psychosocial and functional impacts for the individual. While occupational therapy practitioners are approved behavioral health service providers research indicates there is a lack of understanding regarding the need for and role of occupational therapy for individuals with substance use disorders. This study utilized a phenomenological qualitative design to learn about the lived experiences, as well as the perceptions of daily life and current behavioral health services, of individuals with substance use disorders. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five participants, recruited through convenience sampling. Results showed participants’ lived experiences included a pervasive cycle of drug and/or alcohol use, chronic emotional distress, and varying motivators for sobriety. Participants’ daily lives included occupying time with meaningful activity, giving up control, and meeting expectations by fulfilling roles and responsibilities. Most participants lived in the moment and presented with difficulty establishing long-term goals. While participants felt their current behavioral health services were meeting their immediate needs, they expressed a desire for individuality and trust from counselors. Based on these findings, occupational therapy’s role may be the provision of client-centered services focusing on long term health and wellness, adaptive habits and use of time, and facilitating planning and achievement of long-term occupational goals in order to foster enhanced success in maintaining sobriety.

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