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J Addict Dis. 2006;25(3):55-67.

Forgiveness and alcohol problems among people entering substance abuse treatment.

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  • 1East Tennessee State University, Department of Psychology, Campus Box 70649, Johnson City, TN 37614, USA.


Forgiveness is argued to be highly relevant to problematic substance use, yet supportive empirical evidence is lacking. Findings are presented from a longitudinal study exploring the relationship between religiousness and spirituality (RS) variables and alcohol use disorders. We examined forgiveness of self (ForSelf), of others (ForOthers), and by God (ByGod), hypothesizing positive relationships with RS and negative relationships with alcohol use and consequences, at both baseline (N = 157) and six-month follow-up (N = 126). ForSelf scores were significantly lower than ForOthers and ByGod scores, and ForOthers scores increased modestly over time. ByGod was most consistently associated with other RS variables. ForSelf and ForOthers were associated with alcohol-related variables at both time points, and baseline ForSelf and ForOthers were associated with fewer drinking consequences at follow-up, but not after controlling for other pertinent variables. ForSelf may be most difficult to achieve and thus most important to recovery, thereby preventing full recovery and fostering relapses.

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