PhD project

Scaffolding recovery from alcohol and drug addiction through systematic engagement with pro-recovery online communities

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Application deadline

28 February 2024

Substance use disorders exact a huge toll on individuals, their families and the community at large. This manifests as increased physical and psychological morbidity and mortality, and greater involvement in crime. Other effects include social exclusion and stigma, neglect, abuse, and removal of children, and a diminished contribution to the community and society. There is strong evidence for the ameliorative effects of treatment, including residential treatment, and growing evidence for the importance of recovery-oriented aftercare. This includes emerging evidence about involvement in online pro-recovery communities. This project will assess recovery pathways for alcohol and drug problems across diverse populations, including adults from structurally vulnerable populations.

 The aim of the project is to demonstrate the added value that engagement with online support generates in terms of the following outcomes: recovery capital, physical and psychological health, quality of life, commitment to sobriety, as well as abstinence, employment, housing, and involvement with the justice system; and to demonstrate the mechanisms through which online group activity supports recovery.

 Methodologies used in the project include thematic and computerised linguistic analyses of social media data (online engagement data) and analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal survey data from vulnerable populations in England and Scotland.

 In the final stage of the project, the evidence collected will be used to develop an integrated pro-recovery model of online engagement which can predict the likelihood of positive identity change and sustained recovery and can be used to inform effective program design for health practitioners. An evidence-based approach will be used to develop a model of online support that would assertively link those leaving residential treatment to a moderated online recovery support community that will focus on building belonging and positive identity.

Diversity statement

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.

How to apply

  1. Email Dr Ana-Maria Bliuc ( to:
    • send a copy of your CV
    • discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).
  2. After discussion with Dr Bliuc, you can apply via our direct application system. 
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