DOI: 10.1177/02537176231222968 ISSN: 0253-7176

A Follow-up Study on Coping Strategies and its Association with Relapse Among Alcohol-dependent Patients

Sabitha Venkateswaran, Ranganathan Thirumalai
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Alcohol Dependence Syndrome is a chronic illness that is relapsing in nature. Past research has shown that coping strategies that are specific to alcohol dependence are useful in preventing long-term relapse. This follow-up study is, therefore, an attempt to understand the coping styles and strategies that are associated with relapse among individuals dependent on alcohol.


We aimed to cross-sectionally assess the severity of alcohol dependence and coping styles of Alcohol dependent individuals. One hundred and twenty-seven consecutive patients who satisfied the International Classification of Diseases Tenth Edition (ICD 10) criteria for alcohol dependence and who were above the age of 18 years were included. This study was conducted in the de-addiction outpatient services of a Tertiary care center in South India between April 2019 and June 2020. Our Institutional Ethical Committee granted the approval for this study. We used a self-designed proforma for collecting the socio-demographic details. The Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire (SADQ) and Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced Inventory (Brief – COPE) were administered. Patients were followed up for six months. Motivation Enhancement Therapy was given to all our participants during their monthly follow-up visit. Descriptive analysis was performed using mean and standard deviation. We used the student t-test and chi-squared test to understand the differences in the coping strategies between relapsed and non-relapsed persons. Spearman’s correlation was used to assess the correlation between the severity of alcohol dependence and coping strategies. A p value of <.05 was taken as significant.


Non-relapsed individuals had significantly higher scores on active coping ( p = .008), emotional support ( p = .044), informational support ( p = .017), planning ( p < .001), acceptance ( p = .030), and humor ( p = .001). Relapsed individuals had statistically significant scores on denial ( p = .005), substance use ( p = .024), and self-blame ( p = .012). We found a positive correlation between the severity of alcohol dependence and maladaptive coping strategies ( p < .01).


Relapsed individuals were found to have significantly higher maladaptive coping strategies. Non-relapsed individuals exhibited greater adaptive coping styles. Maladaptive coping strategies positively correlated with the severity of alcohol dependence.

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