“I’ve Fixed Things Up”: Paternal Identity of Substance-Dependent Fathers


  • Association for Public Health, Methadone Maintenance Treatment program, Ashdod, Israel.

The Bob Shapell Scholl of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel (einatp@post.tau.ac.il).


This study deals with how substance-dependent men perceive their paternal identity. Data were based on in-depth semi-structured interviews with 12 Israeli fathers who were enrolled in methadone maintenance treatment. Content analysis revealed that participants had undergone a process of parental identity formation composed of four distinct stages: absence, awakening, taking responsibility, and resolution to re-form oneself as a father. The discussion highlights the developmental nature of this process. Also discussed are the effects of three factors on the formation of paternal identity: the treatment for addiction, the subjects' newfound identity as “clean addicts,” and social perceptions and discourses about fatherhood and addiction.