When it comes to alcohol consumption, family and friends matter. New research shows that people trying to sustain recovery from alcohol addition are more successful when they have positive social relationships.
The research, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, indicates that these positive influences can have a powerful effect and can last for at least three years post treatment.
Study participants whose family or friends directly advocated that they abstain from drinking alcohol were more successful. Those volunteers who had someone encouraging them to drink (pro-drinker) had more trouble staying away from alcohol.
“Most of us have an image of a ‘pro-drinker’ as someone who drinks heavily. Often, however, pro-drinkers are people who may be abstainers or light drinkers, but don’t believe their friend who is struggling with an alcohol problem has a drinking problem that requires treatment,” said Dr. Robert Stout of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Stout and his colleagues offer that perhaps intervening with pro-drinkers to make them advocates for abstention may help those who are trying to recover from additions.
Stout went on to say, “It can be intimidating to reach out to new people, or to explain to one’s current friends and family that they need support during recovery. Breaking off old relationships can also be hard, but equally important.”
The paper, “Association Between Social Influences and Drinking Outcomes Across Three Years,” supports the development of treatments that promote positive social changes and the need for additional research on the determinants of social network changes. Dr. Stout’s co-authors include Drs. John Kelley of Massachusetts General Hospital, Molly Magill of Brown University, and Maria Pagano of Case Western Reserve University. The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Do you know the warning signs of alcohol abuse?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions (from the NIAAA) you may have a problem with alcohol and should discuss your concerns with your doctor.
For more information and publications about alcohol abuse, prevention, and recovery visit NIAAA
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