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Existential aspects of living with addiction – Part II: caring needs. A hermeneutic expansion of qualitative findings


  • This study was conducted with financial and practical support from Mälardalen University

Lena Wiklund, Senior lecturer, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Box 883, S-721 23 Västerås, Sweden. Telephone: +46 21 107332.


Aim.  This paper aims to describe caring needs associated with existential aspects of living with addiction.

Background.  Spirituality is considered a driving force within and the concept relates to self, others and God and the relationships between them. The spiritual dimension is of great importance in both the addiction itself as well as in recovery and addressing caring needs relating to spirituality is important in nursing.

Design.  Hermeneutic inquiry was used to explore caring needs related to peoples experiences of living with addiction.

Method.  This paper is a hermeneutic expansion of findings presented in Part I. Existential themes in the form of spiritual challenges and caring needs are reflected upon as a process between figure and background.

Results.  The themes presented are: meaning – meaninglessness, connectedness – loneliness, life – death, freedom – adjustment, responsibility – guilt, control – chaos. Caring needs associated with them are identified as; the need to create a new frame of reference for interpreting of life, the need to experience coherence in life, a restored dignity as well as the need for a sense of community and attachment, confirmation and acceptance. The caring need for forgiveness and reconciliation is also identified as well as the need for continuity, comprehensibility and manageability.

Conclusions.  When caring for patients suffering from addiction nurses should address patients’ spirituality. The caring communion is vital, as it is the foundation for meeting the patients’ needs. Intervention by nurses should focus on aspects that will help patients feel alive and in communion with others.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Understanding and being able to identify patients’ caring needs associated with existential aspects of living with addiction will enable nurses to provide professional care and promote patient’s recovery.