Positive Psychology and the Field of Addiction: A Proposal for a Culturally Relevant Framework
Keywords:positive psychology interventions, addictions, Arab, culture, Islam, stigma, 12-step
Abstract: Positive psychology is an evidence based approach to wellbeing and flourishing that has been applied in many settings including clinical, health and educational psychology. There is growing evidence that positive psychology interventions (PPIs) significantly impact depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms. PPIs can be self-initiated or done online increasing access to psychological support for populations who may not rely on traditional therapy. To date, there has been little systematic application of PPIs to the area of addiction treatment or prevention; yet, many lines of evidence suggest that positive psychology aligns with known factors that support recovery from substance use. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an Islamic society with a diverse population of expatriate residents, substance abuse is recognized as a public health issue and the government does provide specialist rehabilitation centers alongside anti-drug campaigns in schools and universities. Despite such efforts, there is a cultural stigma not only against substance use, but discussion of mental health issues in general and psychological help-seeking. This paper reviews the evidence for PPIs in clinical and addiction settings, provides an overview of substance use data and addiction services in the UAE and neighboring nations, and argues that PPIs may provide an effective, acceptable framework for addiction treatment and prevention strategies.
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