Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

John McClellan, Ph.D.


Kelly Rossetto, Ph.D.


Christina Ivey, Ph.D.


Opioid addiction has reached crisis levels in the United States. While as many as 20 million Americans have Substance Use Disorder (SUD), often drug addiction is seen as an immoral choice rather than a medical condition. Little research has been done from the perspective of the parent with an addicted child, and thus there is an absence of scholarly literature on how parents might negotiate the challenges faced when seeking help for a child with SUD. In this thesis, I use autoethnography as a method to tell the story of my eight-year journey with my daughter’s addiction. I reveal my painful experiences dealing with the stigma when learning about my daughter’s addiction and in seeking help and support for her addiction. Additionally, I offer my experiences with dialogue that helped maintain and rebuild the relationship with my daughter. By revealing my lived experiences, I expose the everyday ways stigma often prevents attempts to help those with SUD and reveal new ways to communicate that can build relationships between parents and their children; rather than separate and abandon them. By understanding the lived experience of stigma and by treating those struggling with SUD with respect we can generate hope for an experience that feels so hopeless.