Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2013


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Lisa Lopez Levers

Committee Member

Debra Burkhart

Committee Member

Emma Mosley

Committee Member

Keith Wolfe


Addiction, Drugs, Recovery


Drug addiction is a disorder frequently associated with chronic relapse. An individual's return to use is a fairly prevalent topic in the literature, but receiving less examination is the significance of drug-related stimuli as they apply to drug-seeking behaviors. It cannot be ignored that triggers and cues are a prominent feature in everyday life. Although many non-addicted people fail to become aroused by common stimuli, individuals who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs see depictions of use in unlikely places. In the eyes of an addict, a light bulb may prompt a desire to smoke methamphetamines, and a simple plastic waster bottle may conjure memories of huffing methane gas. As such these cues often invoke a desire to engage in the use of psychoactive substances. Using a phenomenologocially-oriented approach, this qualitative investigation examined the lived experiences of individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, and their experiences in The Crack Room. The results of this research reflect relatively consistent findings about the response of individuals in recovery when faced with prominent triggers and cues. This topic largely has been discounted in the literature. The findings illuminated issues regarding familial disconnectedness, the numbing affect of drugs and alcohol, genetic indicators, trauma, specific triggers that may ignite an individual's desire to use, and the development of skill sets that may be used to combat urges. Another prominent concern for individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is a fear of returning to placement in prisons, jails, and psychiatric hospitals. The results of this investigation provided evidence that therapeutic simulation is a viable option for individuals seeking treatment for addiction. This phenomenologically-oriented study was conducted through individual interviews and researcher observations. The results of the study also showed a consistency with the original design and purpose of The Crack Room, which is to minimize one's startle response when an individual is faced with drug-related cues. However, this investigation provided additional outcomes that were not expected and offered other positive uses for The Crack Room as a solid therapeutic tool.