Dissertation Title:

Existential Boredom and Alcohol Addiction Recovery


Carol Adams

Date, Time & Place:

September 23, 2021 at 10:00 am


This study described how participants came to terms with existential boredom in the course of their lived experiences of alcoholism and recovery. A review of the literature revealed a paucity of qualitative studies in the context of boredom and alcohol recovery. To that end, this was a qualitative study designed to contribute to the existing body of work. The arc for this study describes the journey of four participants who were in long-term alcohol recovery, including the way in which they obtained life meaning and purpose and resolved their existential boredom. This study utilized interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) as its methodology (Smith et al., 2009), allowing access to the participants’ deeper subjectivity. The researcher identified 27 themes which subsequently coalesced into four superordinate themes. The first theme discusses being stuck in a ruminative cycle whereby every day was the same and there was little novelty in their day-to-day existence. The theme label “The Mundaneness of Being: Groundhog Day” was based on the movie referenced by participants. This was addressed by the second theme of “Self-medication,” largely through alcohol, a long-standing solution to boredom (Toohey, 2011). Recovery came from the third theme of “Filling the Existential Vacuum” as theorized by Frankl (1980). All participants indicated that they acquired meaning and purpose, including spirituality, educational and vocational growth, and resolved their boredom. All have subsequently transitioned into the fourth theme of “Sustaining Alcohol Recovery.”

  • Program/Track/Year: Clinical Psychology, A, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Michael Sipiora
  • Reader: Dr. Jason Butler
  • External Reader: Dr. Richard Bargdill
  • Keywords: Boredom, Alcoholism, Addiction, IPA, Repetitiveness, Ideography