Perspective transformation: Women in long-term recovery from alcohol abuse

Lynda Carole Baldwin, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Objective. The purpose of this study was to determine the meaning of personal transformation for twenty women in long term, stable recovery from alcohol abuse; to identify themes or patterns of this recovery, and; to determine the extent to which they experienced the phenomenon of perspective transformation. Method. Volunteers were recruited by advertisement, word of mouth, and through a closed circuit web based broadcast. A descriptive, exploratory study, which analyzed perspective transformation from the standpoint of five action phases, was conducted. Data was collected using in-depth personal interviews and questionnaires. Subjects' responses were analyzed by qualitative methods. Triangulation was performed on the grouped data comparing the interviews to the data produced by the questionnaires. Quantitative analysis of questionnaire items explored behavioral changes experienced before and after alcoholism recovery. Results. Five phases of recovery were identified. Phase I which involved recognition that alcohol was a problem and change might be possible took several years during which 3 major transitions occurred: (1) from often being alienated to having relationships with family and friends; (2) from daily upheavals to eventually a more peaceful existence, and; (3) from denial that alcohol was a problem to acceptance and willingness to change. Recovery was often seen in a spiritual context, which also required ongoing support. During Phase II there was an assessment of self, others, and the environment which revealed a pattern of intense unhappiness and negative feelings toward self and others with a disregard for cultural norms. Phase III revealed a period of desperation as life became unmanageable, but gradual willingness to accept support and guidance and a desire to improve self and help others. This led to improvement of existing role performance and the willingness to try out new roles. In Phase IV there was a pattern of personal growth which included: the establishment of boundaries, setting priorities, a willingness to place others' needs above their own, acceptance of responsibility, and learning to cope without alcohol, often with the use of tools learned in AA. During Phase V, many experienced knowledge of frailties but growing respect for self and others, with an improved ability to function in giving relationships. Implications for Prevention and Recovery: Early education concerning addiction and recovery may play a crucial role in prevention and early recovery, as it did for children of women in this study. Recovery requires persistent effort and organized support.

Subject Area

Public health|Behaviorial sciences|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Baldwin, Lynda Carole, "Perspective transformation: Women in long-term recovery from alcohol abuse" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9985993.