Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (1.23 MB)

The Experience of Treatment and Recovery for Middle-aged Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Aotearoa New Zealand

Download (1.23 MB)
posted on 2023-08-06, 09:12 authored by Westley, Madeleine

COVID-19 has impacted the lives of many people worldwide since being declared a pandemic in March 2020. For people experiencing an alcohol-use disorder, the pandemic potentially harmed them and their families, whānau and wider communities, as it dramatically changed the way treatment and recovery centres operated. Treatment centres aim to improve the quality of life of people to help them reduce their alcohol intake. Very little research has been conducted in Aotearoa New Zealand on the topic of alcohol use disorders and the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for women. In response, this thesis examined the experiences of middle-aged women with alcohol use disorders and how they experienced treatment and recovery during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. This qualitative research used in-depth interviews and narrative theory to understand their experiences. The women reported enduring changes to their treatment and recovery practices; these were expressed through narrative themes that encompassed social connection, tele-delivered services saving their lives, old patterns that were hard to die, wearing masks, and gratitude for the treatment centres that helped offset the impact of COVID-19 on their treatment and recovery. The findings suggest that COVID-19 caused both positive and negative impacts on the women’s treatment and recovery. In some ways, the COVID-19 pandemic showed how technology can be used as a tool during a disaster to provide support for certain populations, and highlighted the importance of staying connected with others. These findings can be used to understand how services approach and understand alcohol use disorders, and acknowledges the impact a disaster can have on a community.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License


Degree Discipline

Health Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Health Psychology

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

200599 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) not elsewhere classified

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Health


Blake, Denise