Using the Transtheoretical Model to conceptualise peer mentors’ recovery from substance use

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims – The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of Breaking Free Online (BFO), a technology enhanced recovery programme for treating substance dependence, in peer-led treatment delivery, and to explore the impact of undertaking a mentoring role on peer mentors’ own recovery maintenance.
Methods – This was a qualitative study designed to elicit information regarding peer mentors’ recovery and mentoring experiences. Peer mentors from Crime Reduction Initiatives, a UK-based health and social care charity, were invited to participate in the study. A total of 18 peer mentors attended interviews. Thematic analysis was used to investigate experiences of recovery and was directed by the Transtheoretical Model (TTM).
Results – Change in behaviour was associated with a change in perceived self-identity away from peer mentors’ previous substance using self-identity. Achieving abstinence was considered as the ‘action’ stage in recovery, whereas peer mentoring, and the use of resources including BFO and peer support, were found to be associated with the ‘maintenance’ phase of abstinence.
Conclusions – Findings indicate that recovery from substance dependence is a complex, long-term process. The TTM conceptualised peer mentor’s recovery journey from substance use, demonstrating the maintenance stage of recovery as being key, with peer mentors drawing upon available resources to sustain abstinence-based recovery. Participants had variable amounts of time in recovery, therefore further research would warrant investigation into the differences between periods of time in recovery and any links to the TTM.


Dr Sarah Elison, Breaking Free Online Mr Glyn Davies, Breaking Free Online Dr Jonathan Ward, Breaking Free Online Dr Martha Dalton, Crime Reduction Initiatives


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Mrs Stephanie Dugdale