Women married to men with alcohol abuse problems can face a slew of problems themselves, but many spouses do not or cannot seek help.

"The burden of living with an alcoholic partner can cause considerable psychological distress," said Robert Rychtarik, senior research scientist at University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).

With a view to helping those spouses who face barriers to seeking help, the researchers developed a self-paced online coping skills training programme to determine if it could be an effective way to help reduce distress in this frequently underserved population.

Nearly 100 women living with an alcoholic partner tested the programme, which included narrated instruction, animated presentations and video dramatisations of the most effective ways to deal with problems arising from a partner's drinking.

Certified counselors ("coaches") were available to chat via computer or telephone."The majority of the participants showed significantly higher levels of coping skills and experienced decreased depression and anger compared to those who did not take part in the programme," Rychtarik maintained.

"Specialised professional help for spouses of alcoholics is not widely available and insurance coverage can be limited," Rychtarik pointed out."Fear of retribution, family turmoil, stigmatisation, and financial, time and geographical constraints also can be barriers," Rychtarik added.

The programme is not yet available to the public. The results were detailed in the online edition of the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.


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