Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, potentially fatal disease that crosses gender, race, ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic strata.
Much of what is known about the disease of alcoholism has been uncovered studying male alcoholics.
A phenomenological study was undertaken to identify those contextual factors that fostered and hindered the process of recovery for alcohol dependent women.
Criteria for participation in the study were: women self-identifying as recovering from alcoholism, aged 25 years and older, able to converse and write in English, and abstinent from alcohol use for a minimum of two years. Eleven women (6 Caucasian, 4 African-American, one Native American; 8 heterosexual and 3 lesbians) in recovery for alcohol dependency were recruited by networking and snowball sampling. The women ranged in age from 32 to 76 years of age and had been in recovery from 2 to 37 years. Data were collected through individual audio tape recorded interviews that lasted 45 minutes. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method for content analysis.
The data revealed the factors that fostered recovery from alcoholism were:
- working a program of recovery,
- developing a support system,
- making amends for past behaviors,
- recognizing recovery as a life-long process, and
- helping other alcohol dependent women struggling in recovery.
These were all incorporated in the Alcoholics Anonymous program and fellowship.
The identified factors that hindered the process of recovery were:
- everyday stress,
- feeling stigmatized for being alcoholic, and
- dealing with painful childhood memories.
Research report; M. Kathleen Brewer. The Contextual Factors that Foster and Hinder the Process of Recovery for Alcohol Dependent Women. Journal of Addictions Nursing, Volume