Untreated Remission from Alcohol Problems

August 2018

NDARC staff:
Mr Richard Mellor

Other Collaborators: 

Professor Alison Ritter, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Dr Kari Lancaster, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney

Project description: 

This PhD project will examine the untreated remission of alcohol problems. This will involve understating the way in which those with alcohol problems engage in ‘spontaneous remission’ or ‘natural recovery’ outside the treatment setting. A mixed methods approach will be adopted, as this will enable a broad understating of a relatively under-studied phenomenon.

It is well established in the literature that those with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) are not likely to enter treatment. When estimating this treatment gap, unmet need estimates are frequently calculated, where the number of people meeting diagnostic criteria for a SUD and not receiving treatment are identified. As indicated by population based surveys, the unmet need for AOD treatment is estimated to be around 80%, suggesting that 80% of those meeting diagnostic criteria for a SUD do not receive treatment. When comparing unmet need estimates for each substance, alcohol emerges as the substance with the highest unmet need.

One response to the unmet need for alcohol treatment is to encourage governments to increase the availability and access to alcohol treatment. Another response (which is less explored) is to consider untreated remission – so consider the extent to which those meeting diagnostic criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder enter ‘spontaneous remission’ or ‘natural recovery’ outside the treatment setting. It is this avenue which has been under-studied to date. Indeed, there are no Australian studies of untreated remission for alcohol use disorders.

Read more on the NDARC website.