Home > Is shame a barrier to sobriety? A narrative analysis of those in recovery.

Sawer, Francesca and Davis, Paul and Gleeson, Kate (2020) Is shame a barrier to sobriety? A narrative analysis of those in recovery. Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy, 27, (1), https://doi.org/10.1080/09687637.2019.1572071.

External website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09687...

Aims: Experiencing shame can be a risk factor for relapse for people recovering from alcohol dependence, but for some it may act as a necessary protective factor for preventing relapse. Knowing how best to manage shame is therefore an important issue, yet the precise nature of the relationship between shame and alcohol dependence remains largely unexplored.

Research questions: (1) In what ways do participants tell their stories of shame? (2) How is shame experienced and/or understood by those in recovery from alcohol dependence?

Method: Eight participants were recruited from Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) groups and invited to tell their story of recovery. Stories were then analysed using a narrative analysis, focusing on how participants narrated their stories and made sense of their experiences of shame in particular.

Findings: Participants spoke about an inherent deep-rooted negative view about themselves, which was present long before alcohol dependence developed. Alcohol served as a means of connection to others and a way of artificially relieving feelings of worthlessness. Recovery was about finding somewhere safe to talk about feelings of shame and make sense of these experiences.

Conclusions: The results indicate that management of shame is an important component of recovery programmes for alcohol dependence.

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