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Research uncovers new long-term strategy to tackle alcohol addiction

18 November 2013

Press Office

UCLan teams up with Priory Group for detailed study

A study by the Priory Group and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) on long term recovery from alcohol addiction has concluded that abstinence alone is not enough.

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 and 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.”

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.

“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.”

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.

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 on-going 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 UCLan has been published in the September edition of the Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.

Find out more by visiting the Priory Group website.