Heroin addiction in British prisons: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Durjava, Lana, Visick, Amanda and Banbury, Samantha (2018) Heroin addiction in British prisons: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. MOJ Addiction Medicine & Therapy, 5 (2). pp. 59-64. ISSN 2573-2935


Personal experiences of heroin addiction in prison have been often overlooked in research. This study aims to examine the lived experience of former prisoners who experienced heroin addiction during incarceration, with a specific focus on the social and psychological components of the phenomenon. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with four participants who had been diagnosed with opioid dependence. Transcripts of the interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four superordinate themes emerged from the analysis. These were:heroin as emotion regulator, relationship with heroin, feelings of isolation and fear, and conceptualisation of heroin on behaviour change. Superordinate themes with the corresponding subthemes are presented. This study brings attention to individuals’ relationship with heroin and impact of heroin use on interpersonal relationships. Further studies and practical application of scientific knowledge are required to effectively support prisoners with heroin addiction and help them achieve recovery.

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