February 5, 2013

Researchers: Shame leads to alcohol relapse

Body language has a lot to say about relapse, according to a recent study released by the University of British Columbia.

The University introduced its research in a news release Feb. 4 in advance of publication in this week’s Clinical Psychological Science journal.

Slumped shoulders, narrow chests and other physical manifestations of shameful feelings can directly predict a relapse in addicts and alcholics, the university reported in an news release detailing the findings of the study, which explored drinking and health outcomes in newly sober recovering alcoholics.

“Our study finds that how much shame people display can strongly predict not only whether they will go on to relapse, but how bad that relapse will be – that is, how many drinks they will consume,” says UBC Psychology Professor Jessica Tracy, who conducted the study with graduate student Daniel Randles.

Forty-six drinkers completed questionnaires about their physical and mental health while Tandy and Randles assessed their body language. The researchers found that unconscious physical mannerisms predicted relapse, while the written expressions of shame were not indicators.

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