- The study examines the views of patients with alcohol use disorder on relapse.
- Relapse was associated with the use of alcohol as a means of self-regulation combined with the sense of being disconnected from other people.
The excessive use of alcohol represents a significant public health concern. It is important that evidenced, ethical, quality treatment is available for those with Alcohol Use Disorder. One of the greatest challenges when it comes to the treatment, however, is preventing relapse.
A recent qualitative study has examine the relapse experience from the personal views of 12 former and current alcohol use disorder patients. Patients were interviewed about their most recent relapse as well as near relapse experiences (relapse crisis). Within the interviews key themes emerged in the descriptions of relapse and relapse crisis.
Results from their analysis found that the chance of relapse was particularly associated with the use of alcohol as a means of self-regulation combined with the sense of being disconnected from other people. In terms of experiencing relapse crisis, some of the reasons described for managing to avoid relapse included thinking about the consequence of drinking, knowing to seek help, reflecting about relationships, and contemplating the effects that alcohol has on behaviour towards others.
By comparing relapse experiences with experiences where the patient almost turned back to alcohol, the study shows how relapse is characterized by using alcohol as a way of regulating oneself, alongside people feeling disconnection from positive relationships. With regards to practice, the findings emphasise the importance of supporting patients to strengthen positive relationships.