The “alcoholic other”: Harmful drinkers resist problem recognition to manage identity threat

Morris, J., Moss, A.C., Albery, I.P. and Heather, Nick (2022) The “alcoholic other”: Harmful drinkers resist problem recognition to manage identity threat. Addictive Behaviors, 124. p. 107093. ISSN 0306-4603

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Harmful drinkers represent an important Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) group in public health terms, accounting for significant health and social costs. However, harmful drinkers are characterized by low problem recognition; they tend to construct their drinking identity as positive and problem-free, actively setting themselves apart from the stigmatised 'alcoholic other'. As such, harmful drinkers rarely engage in treatment and represent an important opportunity for lower threshold interventions and self-change. The present study sought to explore AUD problem framing and stigma effects on problem recognition. Harmful drinkers without perceived addiction experience recruited online (n = 244, 54% male, 46% female, 96% British) were randomised to one of six conditions comprising beliefs about alcohol problems (control, continuum, binary disease model) and stigma (stigma, non-stigma), and completed measures relating to problem recognition. As predicted, results found that harmful drinkers exposed to binary disease model beliefs and stigmatising language had significantly lower problem recognition than those in other conditions. However, no support was found for the prediction that continuum beliefs would be associated with higher problem recognition. Results suggest that the interaction of binary disease model beliefs and stigma prompted alcoholic label avoidance. These findings suggest that problem framing has important consequences for harmful drinkers. Implications for behaviour change amongst harmful drinkers through mechanisms of problem framing and identity are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: The design and data collection for this study was undertaken as part of the lead author’s PhD studies funded by Alcohol Change UK (grant number RE 16-03) and London South Bank University.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alcohol, Stigma, Problem recognition, Framing, Addiction
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2021 11:27
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2023 08:00

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