Sleep and recovery from addiction

Researchers from York, Surrey and Kings College London are investigating the everyday and night experiences of individuals in treatment for drug and alcohol dependence.

Completed research projects

Sleep during recovery from drug and alcohol dependence: a sociological study of embodied change

Sociological exploration into how, why and in what ways do sleep, drug dependence and recovery interact, and with what consequences?

Key facts

  • Principal investigator: Professor Sarah Nettleton
  • Co-investigators: Dr Rob Meadows and Professor Jo Neale
  • Funding amount: £10,000
  • Funder: British Academy
  • Project start date: 1 April 2013
  • Project end date: 31 March 2014


Previous studies conducted by Dr Jo Neale and Professor Sarah Nettleton, found sleep to be a critical issue for drug users. Their findings prompted further empirical questions such as: How, why and in what ways do sleep, drug dependence and recovery interact, and with what consequences?  

Our work seeks to explore these issues.  Although many of these questions have been addressed by biomedical scientists, to-date their work has not been matched by any detailed sociological research. Our work rests on the idea that:

  1. If we are to answer these questions, novel conceptual models are required which situate sleep, drug misuse and recovery as embodied social actions that are embedded within social contexts
  2. Novel methods are required which recognise that sleep is a liminal state.

Meanings of recovery

A dialogue across the sociologies of mental health, physical illness, injury and addiction.

Key facts

  • Principal investigator: Dr Rob Meadows
  • Co-investigators: Dr Sarah Earthy, Prof Sarah Nettleton, Dr Ewen Speed and Prof Hillary Thomas
  • Funding amount: £3,000
  • Funder: Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness
  • Project start date: June 2016
  • Project end date: June 2016


Meanings of recovery was held at the University of Surrey on the 11 and 12 July. The symposium brought together academics and postgraduate research students who have theoretical and empirical interest in ‘recovery’ in the context of mental health, physical illness or injury and addiction.  Postgraduate students were invited to submit abstracts and present posters and there was a strong postgraduate presence across both days. Seven posters were displayed across the two days and bursaries of up to £50 towards travel and accommodation were awarded to the five postdoctoral students who submitted abstracts of posters.

Contact us

Find us

Department of Sociology
Elizabeth Fry Building (AD)
University of Surrey