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Addiction and Spiritual Transformation. An Empirical Study on Narratives of Recovering Addicts’ Conversion Testimonies in Dutch and Serbian Contexts

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SummaryThe article examines how recovering drug addicts employ testimonies of conversion and addiction to develop and sustain personal identity and create meaning from varied experiences in life. Drawing on 31 autobiographies of recovering drug addicts we analyze conversion and addiction testimonies in two European contexts (Serbia and the Netherlands, including a sample of immigrants). The analysis shows how existing frames of reference and self-understanding are undermined and/or developed. We first describe the substance abuse in participants’ addiction trajectory. Next, we outline the religious aspects and the primary conception of recovering addicts’ conversions as an example of spiritual transformation and narrative change. Moreover, participants select and creatively adapt cultural practices in their testimonies. In many of these examples (mostly in the migrant sample) converts clearly employ elements from their personal and family histories, their ethnic and religious heritages, and their larger cultural and historical context to create a meaningful conversion narrative.

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