Moral injury is a concept that has been applied to the challenges facing veterans returning from combat due to the discrepancy between their moral values and the behaviors they engaged in due to war. In recovery women have expressed similar challenges due to the illicit behavior they engaged in while in their addiction as well as the prevalence of trauma that has impacted their transition into substance use. Thirteen female participants in treatment for substance abuse participated in this qualitative study. The majority of the women experienced a history of childhood and/or adult trauma that perpetuated their use of substances as a means of coping, created a sense of social isolation, and shame. The concept of moral injury was identified by the participants as a process that deepened with each subsequent transgression.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Women -- Substance use; Substance abuse --Treatment; Ethics -- Psychological aspects

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Rowe, Daryl M.;