2011-2012 Grad


Alcoholic women in recovery: A phenomenological inquiry of spirituality and recidivism prevention

In the United States, 7-12% of women compared to 20% of men, abuse alcohol, yet the social and medical consequences impact women much harder and faster than men. Women aggrieved by alcoholism have unique health and social consequences which are not well understood because women have been marginalized in studies of alcoholism. Little is known about the nature of the lived experience of the recovery process in women who have achieved a stable recovery and prevented recidivism.

The aim of this study was to describe the lived experiences of alcoholic women in a stable recovery, defined as sustained abstinence for 5 or more years, who used spirituality as a resource to prevent recidivism. A purposeful sample of 3 women with stable recovery between 6.5-20 years, with a mean sobriety of 14.2 years was recruited from Central Alabama Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Data analysis followed Giorgi's descriptive phenomenological method.

The findings were revealed in women's historical perspectives of their entry in to alcohol abuse and key events that triggered a move toward treatment and eventual recovery as the context for their sustained recovery. The following meaning structures were identified: (a) structure of historical significance, (b) structure of pivotal episodes, and (c) structure of recovery. The structures and associated constituents detail the experience of recovery in transitional phases across the lives of three participants.

Conclusion from this study provides new insights into the recovery process and sustained sobriety through the narratives of the lived experience from women recovering from alcoholism. The dynamics of spirituality and recidivism prevention was found to be a multifaceted process rather than a simple cause and effect relationship. The participants described Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as an important safe haven to help them sustain abstinence and as a resource to help them sustain sobriety long enough until the moment of a personal spiritual awakening dynamically transformed their perceptions and a new dimension of recovery began. Their spirituality became the foundation from which all other assets of recovery stemmed

The full abstract can be found here.