Support reduces post-addiction relapses

January 10, 2008

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By Marianne Meadahl

The more support systems recovering drug and alcohol addicts have, the better their long-term chances of conquering their addictions, according to a recent study by psychology PhD student Kim van der Woerd.

Van der Woerd, a member of the ‘Namgis band, monitored First Nations people from around the province attending a residential treatment and recovery program in Alert Bay. She tracked 218 clients who participated in 17 different six-week sessions offered at the ‘Namgis Treatment Centre over a 30-month period.

She discovered that more than half of the clients who had been out of treatment for three to 37 months had a relapse within three months of completing treatment.
And she found that neither pre-treatment factors, such as age, gender, education or history of abuse, or post-treatment variables such as family support, counseling access or programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous had a direct impact on whether clients abstained or relapsed.

But those clients with the most support systems fared better than those with only one or a few. “The greater the number of supports the client had,” she says, “the more likely they were to be completely abstinent, and the fewer supports, the more likely they were to completely relapse.”

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