Research uncovers new long-term strategy to tackle alcohol addiction
The report ‘Exploring the processes involved in long term recovery from alcohol addiction’’ undertakes a detailed study of individuals who have successfully overcome alcohol addiction by asking the questions: ‘How do chronic alcohol-dependent persons in long-term recovery experience the transition from alcohol dependence into recovery, and how do they understand and maintain recovery?
Report co-author Howard Marsden-Hughes (Lead Therapist in Addictions at the Priory Hospital Preston) said: "We found that there are three interlinked processes involved in achieving long term recovery: ‘being sober’, ‘maintaining sobriety’ and ‘achieving recovery’. What is evident from the study is that a holistic approach to treatment, which focuses on lifelong recovery management through therapy or support groups, is as important as total abstinence in achieving long term recovery."
Alcohol Awareness Week
The report, released during Alcohol Awareness Week (18 – 22 November), provides new guidance for healthcare professionals responsible for treating and managing addictions by focussing on the processes to achieve long term recovery rather than the outcomes.
In aiming to understand why some people are able to achieve recovery and others are not, the study highlights that the lack of consensus regarding the definition of “recovery” amongst healthcare professionals is a cause for concern as it stands to undermine clinical research and muddles communications to service users, the public and policy makers alike.
The report also cites the need for greater consistency in the management of alcohol addiction, since the goals and methods of treatment reflect whether alcoholism is treated as a disease, an obsessive compulsive syndrome or a lifestyle choice.
Ongoing supportive treatment
What is clear from the findings is that therapy must look beyond the goal of simply getting the individual sober and instead, focus on the development of self-efficacy, self-determination and ongoing supportive treatment involving peer support.
The study by Howard Marsden-Hughes Lead Therapist in Addictions at the Priory Hospital Preston, and Peter Madsen Gubi, Senior Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Central Lancashire has been published in the September edition of the Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.