Alcohol recovery narratives are dynamic and can consist of multiple dimensions

1. In this study, the eight narrative dimensions related to alcohol recovery identified were: gender, identity, recovery environment, drinking trajectory, drinking behaviors, stages, spirituality and religion, and recovery experience.

2. Shame has been a prominent theme in narrators. The lack of a sense of belonging and spirituality was prominent among LGBTQ+ narrators; while alienation and inequality were prominent in the indigenous narrators.

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Alcohol misuse is a major health concern due to its prevalence and associated complications. Although many are involved in alcohol recovery, little is known at the individual level regarding characteristics of recovery such as age, gender, and ethnicity. As a result, the objective of the current systematic review and narrative synthesis was to develop a framework describing the characteristics of alcohol recovery narratives in order to inform future research, policy, and practice in different settings.

Of the 11 332 identified records, 32 (n = 1055, 52.6% male) were included in the final analysis from inception through March 2021. Studies were eligible if they provided an original framework for patterns and/or themes of alcohol abuse recovery narratives through empirical data analysis. Studies were excluded if the narrator had no personal experience of alcohol abuse. The risk of bias was assessed using the Critical Assessment Skills Program (CASP Qualitative Research Tool). Data were collected using a three-stage narrative synthesis approach.

The results showed that eight primary narrative dimensions were identified: gender, identity, recovery environment, drinking trajectory, drinking behaviors, stages, spirituality and religion, and recovery experience. Regarding specific demographics: 1) shame was a prominent theme among female narrators; 2) a lack of a sense of belonging and spirituality was prominent among LGBTQ+ narrators; 3) Alienation and inequality were prominent among indigenous narrators. However, this systematic review and narrative synthesis were limited by the lack of studies from low-income countries and non-Caucasian populations. However, the current study contributes to a greater understanding of recovery narratives that will be useful to influence future research and healthcare practices.

Click to read the study in Plus One

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