Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kathleen M. Boyle

Second Advisor

Stephen D. Brookfield

Third Advisor

Thomas L. Fish


The research on college students in recovery from substance abuse issues and on campus programs designed to support them is a relatively new field of inquiry. The primary question this study addresses is how students in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction find success in the recovery-unfriendly environment of contemporary college and university culture. The participants for this study are comprised of 21 alumni from two post-secondary higher education institutions who were members of Collegiate Recovery Programs at their respective institutions. This study approached this question by examining three dimensions of these participants’ experiences, namely, their respective trajectories through college, their experiences with transformation, and, their experiences with the transition to post-college life. A Qualitative, Phenomenological Inquiry comprises the essential research framework for this study. Data gathering consisted of a convenience sampling method for recruiting participants all of whom took part in semi-structured, in-depth, audio-recorded interviews. Data analysis entailed Phenomenological research methods of thematic investigation by reviewing transcripts and identifying salient themes. Analysis also employed coding the data in Dedoose and conducting qualitative code co-occurrence features. Theoretical validation involved innovative application of Chaos and Complexity Theory, Constructive Developmentalism, and Transformative Learning Theory to the data findings. The basic findings revealed that successful trajectories employed effective use of a myriad of supports and learning sufficient internal self-control. Transformation occurred as a synergistic dynamic of individual recovery commitment combined with connection to positively-influencing peers. Successful transitional experiences entailed finding new life balance as well as reconfigured recovery support in post-college life.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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