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Addiction. 2008 Feb;103(2):205-15. Epub 2007 Nov 27.

Risk, resilience, and natural recovery: a model of recovery from alcohol abuse for Alaska Natives.

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University of Alaska Fairbanks, Department of Psychology, Fairbanks, AK 99775-6480, USA.



The People Awakening (PA) study explored an Alaska Native (AN) understanding of the recovery process from alcohol abuse and consequent sobriety.


PA utilized a cross-sectional, qualitative research design and community-based participatory research methods.


The study included a state-wide convenience sample of 57 participants representing all five major AN groups: Aleut/Alutiiq, Athabascan, Inupiaq, Yup'ik/Cup'ik and Tlingit/Haida/Tsimshian. Participants were nominated and self-identified as being alcohol-abstinent at least five years following a period of problem drinking.


Open-ended and semistructured interviews gathered extensive personal life histories. A team of university and community co-researchers analyzed narratives using grounded theory and consensual data analysis techniques.


A heuristic model of AN recovery derived from our participants' experiences describes recovery as a development process understood through five interrelated sequences: (i) the person entered into a reflective process of continually thinking over the consequences of his/her alcohol abuse; (ii) that led to periods of experimenting with sobriety, typically, but not always, followed by repeated cycling through return to drinking, thinking it over, and experimenting with sobriety; culminating in (iii) a turning point, marked by the final decision to become sober. Subsequently, participants engaged in (iv) Stage 1 sobriety, active coping with craving and urges to drink followed for some participants, but not all, by (v) Stage 2 sobriety, moving beyond coping to what one participant characterized as 'living life as it was meant to be lived.


The PA heuristic model points to important cultural elements in AN conceptualizations of recovery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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