Navigation Links
Shame about past alcoholism predicts relapse and declining health in recovering alcoholics
Date:2/4/2013

Feeling shame about past instances of problem drinking may increase the likelihood of relapse and other health problems, according to a new study in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia, shows that behavioral displays of shame strongly predicted whether recovering alcoholics would relapse in the future.

Public shaming has long been viewed as a way to encourage people to amend their ways and research suggests that experiences of shame can motivate people to improve their self-image and contribute to a common good.

But it's not clear that improvement on a general level extends to specific behaviors. Researchers don't know whether experiencing shame about a DUI, for example, actually deters drinking and driving. In fact, some studies suggest that shame might do more harm than good, as it can motivate hiding, escape, and general avoidance of the problem.

Psychological scientists Jessica Tracy and Daniel Randles of the University of British Columbia wondered whether the distinction between shame and guilt might play an important role in determining future behavior.

People who feel shame may blame themselves for negative events and view their "bad" behavior as an unchangeable part of who they are. Thus, shame may actually be a risk factor for certain behaviors rather than a deterrent. But this doesn't seem to be the case for guilt.

"One reason that certain sobriety programs may be effective," the researchers say, "is because they encourage people to see their behaviors as something they should feel guilty, but not necessarily shameful, about."

Feeling guilt about previous behavior, as opposed to shame about being a "bad" person, may be an important component of recovery.

To investigate the influence of shame and guilt on recovery from addiction, Tracy and Randles looked at drinking and health outcomes in a sample of newly sober recovering alcoholics.

Shame is difficult to measure because people often avoid acknowledging feelings of shame. To account for this, the researchers used measures that assessed both self-reported shame and shame-related behaviors, such as a narrowed chest and slumped shoulders. The researchers hypothesized that participants would be less able to voluntarily control their behavioral displays of shame.

In the first session, participants were asked to "describe the last time you drank and felt badly about it," and their responses were video-recorded by the researchers. In a second session about four months later, participants were asked to report their drinking behaviors. The participants completed questionnaires about their physical and mental health at both of the sessions.

The results were revealing.

People who displayed more shame-related behavior were likely to be in poorer physical health at the time of the first session.

More surprising, though, was the finding that behavioral displays of shame predicted whether participants would relapse after the first session.

"How much shame participants displayed strongly predicted not only whether they relapsed, but how bad that relapse was that is, how many drinks they had if they did relapse," say Tracy and Randles.

Shame behaviors at the first session also predicted distressing psychiatric symptoms at the second session. And the data indicate a possible association between shame and worsening health over time.

In contrast, self-reported shame did not predict likelihood of relapse, number of drinks consumed, or health outcomes, providing further evidence that self-report may not be an accurate way of measuring shame.

Consistent with the researchers' hypotheses, self-reported guilt was not associated with any of the outcomes measured.

This study provides the first evidence that feeling shame about one's addiction can directly promote relapses.

"Treatment providers have long suspected that shame is a barrier to recovery, but this is the first time we've seen this link evidenced so robustly," note Tracy and Randles.

The results have clear implications for anyone who struggles with addiction or who has loved ones struggling with addiction, and it also has implications for researchers and clinicians who study emotion and addiction.

The findings are also important in light of the fact that some policymakers and judges have argued for the use of public shaming as a punitive measure against crime.

"Our research suggests that shaming people for difficult-to-curb behaviors may be exactly the wrong approach to take," Tracy and Randles argue. "Rather than prevent future occurrences of such behaviors, shaming may lead to an increase in these behaviors."

The researchers are conducting additional studies to test whether the effect of shame on behavior change generalizes to problematic behaviors beyond addiction.


'/>"/>

Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Sovereign Health of California Is Concerned About Recent CDC Findings Highlighting The Health Risk of Alcohol Abuse And Binge Drinking Among Women
2. Scientists learn more about how inhibitory brain cells get excited
3. Britax Roundabout 55 Gets High Marks from EliteCarSeats.com
4. An Act of Love Adoptions Notifies Families About Congressional Vote to Extend Adoption Tax Credit
5. Parents Not Too Worried About Kids Use of Pain Meds: Poll
6. Gene sequencing project mines data once considered junk for clues about cancer
7. The FSH Society Answers Questions About the New Gene for FSH Muscular Dystrophy
8. Lorna Kleidman Responds to an Article About Four Popular Exercises to Try in the New Year
9. US Drug Watchdog Now Offers Metal on Metal Hip Implant Recipients Concerned About A Device Failure the Names of the Best Attorneys-If A Blood Test Reveals Elevated Metals
10. DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuit Website Launched By Bernstein Liebhard LLP to Inform Public About Ongoing DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Litigation
11. Connective Parenting asks: When It Comes to Mass Shootings—What About Parenting?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Haute Beauty ... Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest partner. ... and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be invisible.” ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Strategic Capital Partners, LLC ... by obtaining investment capital for emerging technology companies. SCP has delivered investment ... resulted in more than a million dollars of capital investment for five companies. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Venture Construction Group (VCG) sponsors Luke’s Wings 5th ... Woodmont Country Club at 1201 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, 20852. The event raised ... have been wounded in battle and their families. Venture Construction Group is a 2016 ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Gilbert, Arizona (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 ... ... Gilbert-based practice, is supporting the upcoming 2016 Miss Arizona pageant as its official ... primarily serves Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, and Chandler, Arizona. , Dr. Olson says ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... To succeed under value-based payments, healthcare providers ... how to move forward, given the need to sustain current operations. PYA has ... an organization’s specific needs. , PYA Principal Martie Ross states, “Healthcare providers want ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, Inc ., (NASDAQ: ... innovative inhaled drugs, announced today that it was added ... reconstituted its comprehensive set of U.S. and global ... is an important milestone for Pulmatrix," said Chief Executive ... awareness of our progress in developing drugs for crucial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... report to their offering. ... kidney failure, it replaces the function of kidneys by removing ... thus the treatment helps to keep the patient body,s electrolytes ... Increasing number of ESRD patients & substantial healthcare expenditure ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Roche (SIX: RO, ... clearance for its Elecsys BRAHMS PCT (procalcitonin) assay as ... or septic shock. With this clearance, Roche is the ... fully integrated solution for sepsis risk assessment and management. ... bacterial infection and PCT levels in blood can aid ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: