Background: The first studies concerning changes in moral virtues during alcohol addiction therapy were published during the last decade. However, as all of these studies applied a variable-oriented approach, it is impossible to capture differences between starting points and changes in variables of interest.

Method: In this study, we employed a person-oriented approach to identify trajectories of change in two moral virtues—forgiveness and gratitude—during alcohol addiction treatment. The sample consisted of 358 alcohol-dependent individuals who were receiving outpatient therapy. Measurements were taken (1) at the beginning of the basic treatment, (2) after its completion (5–7 weeks from baseline), and (3) about six months later. Three forgiveness scales and the Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6) were used to assess the patients’ moral virtues.

Results: Latent class growth analysis (LCGA) revealed four trajectories for self-forgiveness and gratitude, and three trajectories for forgiveness of others and feeling forgiven by God. For patients with a low baseline level of moral virtues, the changes varied depending on the kind of moral virtue. Patients with a relatively high initial level of moral virtues maintained that level in subsequent measurements. Significant correlates of trajectory class membership were gender, education, age, religiosity, diagnosis of coexisting psychiatric disorders, and frequency of attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.

Conclusions: This study highlights the clinical importance of considering differences at the baseline level and in changes of forgiveness and gratitude, as well as personal and alcohol-related correlates of trajectory group membership among people who participate in alcohol addiction therapy.

Edyta Charzyńska, Ewa Gruszczyńska & Irena Heszen
Addiction Research & Theory, 31 Jan 2018