Previous research on recovering from different addictive behaviours has examined e.g. the need for change in lifestyle, the importance of social networks, and more medical aspects like how to overcome craving, and coping. However, as suggested by Koski-Jännes (2002), a recovery might require identity work to achieve a more permanent change. Thus, this is a study of the, eventual, long-term changes in identity among former smokers.
Subjects were recruited from a representative sample of stable former smokers who previously had answered a postal survey (n=1683) concerning their process to a smoke-free life, and in relation to this been asked if they were willing to take part in a personal interview about their smoking cessation process. Out of convenience reasons, 150 interviewees were randomly selected among residents in Stockholm county (n=267), and out of these 75 had agreed to take part in a personal interview. After a second request 41 subjects were still willing to participate. Out of them, 10 women and 10 men were randomly chosen, and contacted at least three times via telephone during April and May 2012. The final sample consists of 19 former smokers (10 women, 9 men), who had been smoke-free for at least the latest 12 months before the interview.
Finally, 19 personal, semi-structured, interviews were performed during May 2012. Respondents were asked to draw a life-line, and the interview circled around how they had experienced, understood, and interpreted the changes in their “smoking-career” – from initiation to cessation – with special emphasize on identity matters, and whether the changes in smoking also implied changes in respondents’ social and personal identity (Harré, 1983, Koski-Jännes, 2002). The transcriptions of the semi-structured interviews were analyzed using basic Content Analysis (e.g. Morgan, 1993; White & Marsch, 2006). The analyses showed that mainly women had benefited of an identity change in their smoking cessation process.