Identity Construction in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders

Gila Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Long-term recovery from substance use disorders has been described as a process of identity construction, through which the stigma of being a substance user is replaced by a new identity of a non-user. Identity construction has been widely acknowledged as a significant factor in different pathways of substance use cessation, such as self-change and treatment-change. However, almost no articles have discussed the role of identity construction in desistance and recovery among both self-changers and treatment-change. The aim of this narrative review was to explore this subject in the two groups. Based on the recovery capital approach and the social identity model of recovery, I posited that self-changers and treatment-changers undergo different processes of identity construction. Moreover, the prospects for successful identity construction depend upon personal and social resources (recovery capital) that provide identity-building materials such as relationships, attitudes, and role models. This article contributes to the field by presenting the different identity constructions in the process of long-term recovery from SUDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychoactive Drugs
Issue number1
Early online date20 Dec 2022
StatePublished - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Substance use
  • identity
  • recovery
  • self-change
  • social identity
  • treatment-change


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