Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects

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Working Paper

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Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and self-perpetuating disease that profoundly diminishes individual, family, and community well-being. Every year in the U.S., drugs (including alcohol and tobacco) are responsible for 25% of hospital admissions, 25% of deaths, and hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity, healthcare costs, and criminal justice costs. Addiction adversely impacts every arena of life ranging from hedonistic pursuits, occupational success, familial and other supportive relationships, to a sense of meaning, physical health, and overall fulfillment of individual potential. Addiction is amenable to treatment, but our medical-model approach to addiction is merely effective for initiating abstinence and reducing symptoms. Interrupting addiction in the short term breaks its self-perpetuation and restores individual free will, but it does not build “recovery.” Recovery is a rich and full lifestyle that makes abstinence sustainable because it is accompanied by a rewarding and meaningful life. The medical model has limitations and offers myriad opportunities for improvement, as relapse rates during and soon after treatment remain high. Insights from positive psychology can increase the efficacy and effectiveness of addiction treatment by nurturing recovery. The Positive Recovery construct and curriculum applies positive psychology insights to help recovering addicts establish lifelong skills to pursue happier, more meaningful lives so that addiction is less tempting and relapse is less likely. This capstone discusses the rationale and evidence for an addiction curriculum that integrates existing effective approaches with interventions that enhance wellbeing through positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement.


positive recovery, addiction, rehab, drug treatment, AA, alcoholics anonymous, alcohol, alcoholism, drugs, alcohol treatment, sex addiction, food addiction


Well-Being/Flourishing, Addiction, Recovery, Alcoholism, Addiction Treatment, Rehab, Recovery, Alcoholism, Education, Business/Work, Character Strengths and Virtues, Counseling/Coaching, Relationships, Health/Wellness, Positive Emotions, Humanities, Other Topics.


Capstone for Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at UPENN



Date Posted: 20 October 2015