Planning adequate methodologies for the utilization of self-help/mutual aid groups’ benefits in alcohol and substance abuse treatment. Examples from Greece.
Sotiris Lainas, Psychologist, MSc, PhD.
Self Help Promotion Program, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
This paper gives an alternative account of psychosocial interventions based on self-help and mutual aid practices in the field of addiction treatment, by using the results of a nine-year research in Greece. The research was concerned with a) the design and application of the Self Help Promotion Programme of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (this programme is an ongoing psychosocial intervention that aims at the treatment of addiction through self and mutual aid values, theories and practices), and b) the evaluation of this intervention through thirty in-depth interviews with the people involved who had addiction problems themselves.
This long-term research was based on a qualitative research methodology and on participatory action research principles. These principles were combined with the principles of grounded theory as the main method of data analysis in order to produce a substantive theoretical background.
The findings of this research propose a specific context within which professional psychosocial interventions, that support the 12-step self-help / mutual aid groups, can be designed. More specifically, these findings highlight the importance of designing interventions based on values that are common to those of the self-help groups and on the active role of service users. Moreover, the findings draw the attention to the human-centered characteristics in the context and process of psychosocial support of the 12-step groups members.
The planning of adequate psychosocial interventions, which utilize the benefits of self-help groups in addiction treatment, is related to alternative scientific views that put in question the dominant help provision model (that of the active expert and the passive recipient of services). This, in turn, highlights the need for expanding the research methodologies that are currently being used in the field.