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Self-change among Spanish speakers with alcohol and drug use disorders in Spain and the United States

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Addictive Behaviors





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OBJECTIVE: Few cross-cultural studies have investigated the self-change process with substance abusers. This study examined commonalities and differences related to the self-change process with Spanish speaking self-changers in Spain and the United States (U.S.) who reported recovering from an alcohol or drug problem on their own (i.e., without formal help or treatment) for ≥1 year. METHOD: Advertisements were primarily used to recruit participants. There were 56 participants in the final sample (Spain, n=29; US; n=27). Participants provided demographic and substance use history information and completed the Drug Use History Questionnaire, Reasons for Change Scale, the Life Events Checklist, and a checklist for maintenance factors after recovery. RESULTS: Significantly more self-changers from the U.S. met DSM IV-TR criteria for alcohol dependence, reported significantly more life events in the year prior to recovery and significantly more maintenance/support events in the year after their recovery than their counterparts in Spain. The majority of participants' recoveries involved abstinence. Some alcohol abusers, however, report successfully engaging in low-risk drinking with no consequences(50% Spain; 22% U.S.), and some drug abusers in Spain (23%) reported a few days per year of very little drug use. CONCLUSIONS: The two groups of Spanish speakers represented very different cultures, and those from the U.S. came from several countries in the Southern hemisphere. The results of this study suggest that even though people speak the same language that does not mitigate against cultural differences. Additional studies of the process of self change with larger participant samples are needed to better inform the development and provision of interventions for Spanish speakers with alcohol and drug use disorders across different cultures and countries.



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