Developing Willingness to Change: Treatment-Seeking Processes for People with Alcohol Problems

Aims: The study explores treatment-seeking processes in men and women with alcohol problems, focusing on promoting and hindering factors.

Methods: Open interviews were held with five women and seven men within a month of their first voluntary treatment for alcohol problems. The interview protocols were analysed consecutively in accordance with grounded theory methodology.

Results: Developing a willingness to change was found to be the basic psychosocial process that lead to treatment-seeking.

Categories that constituted sub-processes and supported willingness to change were:

  • actuating inner forces;
  • dealing with conflicting feelings and thoughts; and
  • hoping to turn the situation around.

These processes were continuously assisted by demanding and caring support from partners, friends or professionals.

Conclusions: The processes that precede treatment-seeking were highly complex, and both internal and external factors promoted and hindered treatment entry.

The social significance of alcohol and the grief related to thoughts of abstaining were the most striking hindering factors. Such feelings need to be considered when motivating people to seek treatment for alcohol problems.

Research; ANNIKA JAKOBSSON, GUNNEL HENSING and FREDRIK SPAK. DEVELOPING A WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE: TREATMENT-SEEKING PROCESSES FOR PEOPLE WITH ALCOHOL PROBLEMS. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2005 40(2):118-123.