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Treatment for Addiction
Relapse: Sex, Love, and Relationships
Addiction and the Family

Recent Research

The process of recovery is different for both genders as evidenced by differences in measurements of different post-treatment experiences.

  • Women drank to intoxication more than men when they relapsed.
  • Men relapsed alone more often than women.
  • Women showed a tendency to relapse in the presence of romantic partners.
  • Being married was consistently related to less drinking for men. For women, being married contributed to relapse in the short-term.
  • Men report more positive mood states during relapse than women.

For women, the presence of negative emotions (anger, sadness) correlates highest with relapse, while social pressure and positive emotions correlate highest with men. A negative emotional state was directly related to higher blood alcohol content on the first day of relapse, relapse duration, and occurrence of a second relapse.

For men and women, the diagnosis of depression at the time of hospitalization was significantly related to the time to first drink and relapse, regardless of whether the major depression was primary or secondary. Diagnosable depression is a more enduring condition than depressive symptoms and is associated with more rapid relapse.

The predictors of a history of abstention greater than three months are:

  • female gender
  • older age
  • younger age of onset of alcoholism
  • currently or previously married
  • attendance at AA

Greater than five years abstinence is predicted by:

  • older age
  • AA participation
  • more years of alcoholism
  • white race
  • absence of legal entanglements

Relapse rates did not differ by PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) status… though PTSD women relapsed more quickly than non-PSTD women who relapsed.

Excerpted from Sheila Blume, MD "Women: Clinical Aspects," Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, Third Edition, 1997, Editors: Joyce Lowinson, Pedro Ruiz, Robert Millman, John Langrod and summarized by Eileen Beyer, Psy. D., CAC Diplomate.

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