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NEWS: Developing Online Program May Help Friends and Families of Alcohol Abusers


Sober Recovery Expert Author

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The fact that alcoholism affects not just the addict but the entire family is well-documented. When there is a spouse or family member involved, one can easily become overwhelmed with new challenges, responsibilities and even anxiety. A senior research scientist at the University of Buffalo cites data that indicates “7.7 million U.S. adults are currently married to or living with a partner with an alcohol use disorder.”

Some spouses are unaware of the resources available to support them during this incredibly difficult time. Others just cannot get out to attend meetings or become part of a support group. These individuals living with an alcoholic partner frequently experience mental anguish but do not know where to go for assistance.

Alcohol abuse does more than just affect the abuser. Its influence debilitates all those around.

Research from the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors journal discovered that women with alcoholic partners who face these types of barriers may benefit from a web-based, interactive support program. Buffalo University’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) set out to create this tool and developed a self-paced, on-line program focused on the training of coping skills. The objective was to guide spouses to focus on their own needs, reduce stress and talk to their partners in a more effective manner.

This unique internet-based program was designed to be easy-to-follow and includes:

  • Narrated instruction
  • Animated presentations
  • Video dramatizations of the most effective ways to deal with problems arising from a partner's drinking

Throughout the study, certified counselors were also made available to chat via computer or telephone.

The Results

Investigators found that “the majority of the participants showed significantly higher levels of coping skills and experienced decreased depression and anger compared to those who didn't take part in the program." Unfortunately, this state-of-the-art program is not yet available to the general public but several private organizations have online resources that can support family members when difficult events arise with an alcoholic individual.

The hope is that additional funding and the ability to analyze results with a larger population will bring this promising concept to reality nationwide. In the meantime, if you or anyone you know is in immediate need of assistance in coping with an alcoholic, contact Al-Anon (757-563-1600) or SAMHSA (877-726-4727), the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Association.

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