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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Martin Roderick

Landale, S. & Roderick, M. (2014). Recovery from addiction and the potential role of sport: Using a life-course theory to study change. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 49(3-4): 468-484.

Author(s) from Durham


To date, sport has played little part as an adjunct or alternative to adult alcohol and drug treatment programmes. However, research into natural recovery (overcoming addiction without formal treatment) identifies that sustained, meaningful activities located within the community, supportive social networks and new identities are a key part of desistance. This article draws on longitudinal data which tracked substance-misusing offenders engaging in a community-based sports programme – Second Chance – as part of their journeys of recovery from alcohol and other drug problems. Employing a life-course theory of informal social controls, the study identified that Second Chance offered participants a space for the opportunity for change, within which an identity transformation was occurring for some respondents. The identity transformation, and subsequent desistance, was facilitated through a confluence of meaningful routine activities, informal social controls and personal agency, both within and outside of Second Chance. This article analyses the life stories told by two Second Chance players, focusing on the meanings they attached to the programme in the context of their recovery and located in their day-to-day lives over 12 months. In doing so the authors highlight the complex nature of recovery from addiction, how structure and agency interrelate in this context and possible implications for sports-based interventions seeking to support disadvantaged adults.