Abstract: Breaking Down Intervention: A Thematic Analysis of Persuasive Narratives in Substance Abuse Interventions

◆ Julie Martin, North Carolina State University

With the rise of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States, substance abuse and addiction is becoming a growing problem for many individuals and their families. In 2017, there were over 70,000 overdose deaths in the U.S, a 2-fold increase within a decade (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). Substance use disorders (SUD) not only affect the individual who is using, but also put a strain on families by displacing parental roles to grandparents (Anderson, 2019), disrupting family systems (Jacob & Johnson, 1999), and increasing the chance of fellow family members developing a SUD (Merikangas et al., 1998). Despite this, family members can be vital to intervening in a family member’s addiction and supporting them during the recovery process. This paper aims to provide new information on the most prevalent persuasive strategies for families participating in substance abuse interventions. Using episodes of the A&E television show Intervention, this study assesses the content of narratives that family members use during substance abuse interventions when persuading an addicted individual to seek treatment. Thematic analysis is being used to code episodes for persuasive narratives which are further organized by patterns, and categorized into themes and subthemes. Preliminary results have begun to show that narratives of support, nostalgia, and ultimatums are common. Upon completion, this work aims to broaden the literature on the role of the family within substance abuse interventions and also provide addiction specialists with more precise tools they can use with family members when preparing them for a family-centered intervention.