College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

What Triggers The Resolution of Alcohol Problems Without Treatment?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1993

Keywords

Adult, Alcohol Drinking, Alcoholism, Attitude to Health, Follow-Up Studies, Life Change Events, Life Style, Liver Function Tests, Spontaneous Remission, Temperance

Publication Title

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

ISSN

0145-6008

Volume

17

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

This study investigated natural recoveries (self-change) from alcohol problems, and overcame several methodological problems that affected the few previous studies of this phenomenon. Three groups of individuals who had resolved an alcohol problem without treatment were interviewed about their drinking history, life events that occurred during the year prior to their resolution, and factors that helped maintain their resolution. As a control for prevalence of life events, a control group of nonresolved, nontreated alcohol abusers were interviewed about events in a randomly selected year. Collaterals were interviewed for all subjects. No life event or constellation of events was differentially associated with the resolutions across the three resolved groups or differentiated the resolved and nonresolved groups. Interviews with resolved subjects were qualitatively analyzed-the majority (57%) of recoveries were characterized as involving a "cognitive evaluation" or appraisal of the pros and cons of drinking. Spousal support was reported by the greatest number of resolved subjects as having helped them maintain their resolution. Findings from this study may provide direction for developing new treatment strategies and for accelerating self-change among problem drinkers in the community. The study also demonstrates the importance of using a control group, without which very different conclusions might have been drawn.

DOI

10.1111/j.1530-0277.1993.tb00752.x