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Is shame a barrier to sobriety? A Narrative Analysis of those in recovery

Sawer, Francesca, Davis, Paul and Gleeson, Kate (2019) Is shame a barrier to sobriety? A Narrative Analysis of those in recovery DRUGS-EDUCATION PREVENTION AND POLICY, 26.

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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.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Sawer, Francesca
Davis, Paul
Date : 17 February 2019
DOI : 10.1080/09687637.2019.1572071
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Shame; Recovery; Alcohol dependence; Narrative analysis
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 15 Feb 2019 17:19
Last Modified : 14 Mar 2019 11:19

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