Communicating Health: A Thematic Narrative Analysis Among Methadone Patients

B. Liahnna Stanley, University of South Florida


This study seeks to understand and document how people recovering from opioid addiction communicate about health and identity in the context of a methadone clinic. This project emerges in response to the rising incidence of opioid addiction and overdose death in the U.S. and suggests there is an urgent theoretical and practical calling for bringing forth the stories of people experiencing addiction and recovery. Guided by the structure-centered approach (SCA) to health communication, this study employs a thematic narrative analysis through interviews with 4 methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) patients about the meanings of health, recovery, and identity. With respect to how methadone patients communicate about health and identity, study findings reveal three key themes, which I distinguish as: 1) health as normalcy; 2) health as lack of resources; and 3) recovering the self, (be)longing, and health citizenship. It is through an understanding of these themes that this project contributes, in several meaningful ways, to research and praxis on health communication in addiction treatment spaces. Limitations of research design and considerations for future research projects on health and addiction are provided.