Researchers at California State University have identified several risk factors that may cause people to relapse after completing their first 12-step program. By using these findings, addiction professionals and others may be better equipped to help clients who are struggling to remain sober.
Data used in the study was garnered through seven interviews at a substance abuse rehab facility in California. Adult men and women in the sample had completed a 12-step program and subsequently had suffered an alcohol relapse.
Eleven questions were asked of the participants, and researchers discovered several dominating factors that contributed to client relapse after completion of a 12-step program.
The first was a lack of commitment to therapy. Residency in the rehab centers appeared to protect them from relapse, and all relapses occurred after being discharged from the facility.
Another factor was unemployment. Over half of the interviewees had been unemployed at the time of relapse. This may result from the stigma of being jobless, as well as financial stress.
The next risk factor was the lack of a healthy support system – that is, respondents often lacked support from family, friends, or the community. This factor contributed to emotional distress and as a result, eventual relapse.
Finally, the stigma of addiction discouraged persons to seek out treatment – they were reluctant to admit that they needed help to recover and had difficulty doing it on their own.
Researchers believe that by identifying such relapse risks, social workers, addiction professionals and other who work with persons struggling with substance abuse will be better equipped to identify risks that may impede recovery.
Moreover, by taking note of these factors, they can inform and instruct clients how to cope with these problems and maintain sobriety.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology