Bulumac [Abstract]

Psycho-social factors behind attaining and maintaining sobriety within participants of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) mutual-help groups in Romania. A qualitative study
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Adriana-Lavinia Bulumac [1]

Abstract: While addiction is a significant social problem in Romania, there has been little research into support groups as an intervention in Romania, despite the growing number of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) mutual-help groups. Although AA has been found to be effective in other countries, unfortunately in Romania it is little known, even among physicians. The purpose of this exploratory study, which is the first known study of 12 step programs in Romania, was to explore the motivation and motives of AA’s participants to become sober and maintain their sobriety. The study specifically explores both the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of AA attendees, as well as other factors, such as relationships, professional and economic status. This exploratory study used qualitative methods. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Themes related to intrinsic motivations to become sober emerged as a much stronger theme among alcoholics who desired and maintained their sobriety than extrinsic factors. The most common intrinsic motivations were low self-esteem, dissatisfaction with alcohol consumption, and an internal desire to change. Extrinsic motivations, while not as preponderant as intrinsic motivations, included family pressure on the individual to change and the recommendations of physicians. The extrinsic motivation turned into intrinsic motivation as alcoholics sobriety grew. The commitment theory (Rudy & Greil, 1987) could explain this shift in participants` motivation since AA participants get involved in AA, invest time and energy in AA activities, and sacrifice their old identities in favour of new ones. As a result, they become committed to AA and to recovery. Their perspective on life and sobriety changes as they get involved in AA. The findings suggest that those working in the area of alcohol abuse should pay more attention to the intrinsic motivations to change for alcoholics, as these appear to play an important role in attaining and maintaining sobriety. In addition, while intrinsic motivation seems to be mandatory in maintaining sobriety, it is not imperative in attaining sobriety since as a result of commitment to sobriety and AA it can turn into intrinsic motivation.

Keywords: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA); Motivation and motives to attain and maintain sobriety; Intrinsic Motivation; Family Pressure; Commitment to AA; Commitment to sobriety;

[1] Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest, Romania, lavinia.bulumac@sas.unibuc.ro.