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Eric Hickey


Many ex-offenders develop negative attitudes and lifestyles-based on adverse childhood experiences that lead to substance abuse problems, as well as negative coping strategies for managing life stressors. To understand ex-offenders negative perspectives and attitudes, one must understand the motivation for change. The purpose of this study was to explore perceptions and feelings of ex-offenders involved in community-based treatment programs pivotal in changing their attitudes and lifestyles. The theoretical framework consisted of labeling theory and social learning theory. A qualitative phenomenological approach was used to explore participants perceptions of community-based treatment. There was a total of 10 participants, 5 men and 5 women, who were ex-offenders that answered questions about demographic information, how they became involved in substance abuse treatment, and their overall experience of community-based treatment via by telephone interviews. Data was organized into themes and subthemes of alcohol and drug addiction, feelings and thoughts, support, and treatment services, as well as an aftercare plan. Participants shared life stories on how community-based treatment helped them break through denial, changed negative attitudes, provided self-awareness tools by psychoeducation, and offered community resources to help with aftercare plans. Each participant had different motivations related to their path to recovery, as well as their positive social change implications that changed their lifestyles. Findings from the study may be used by program administrators to better serve the needs of ex-offenders, resulting in positive social change.

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