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12.07.2018 | Original Article

An Exploration of the Relational Autonomy of People with Substance Use Disorders: Constraints and Limitations

Zeitschrift:
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Autoren:
Rozilaine Redi Lago, Cláudia Maria Bógus, Elizabeth Peter

Abstract

The concept of relational autonomy was used to investigate how people with substance use disorders (SUDs) exercise their autonomy when using mental health services, according to stakeholders’ perspectives. A qualitative study, using a critical approach, was conducted with participants from a mental health service facility. We performed in-depth individual and group interviews with 15 participants, conducted observations, and analyzed patients’ records and service reports. People with SUDs’ autonomy were constrained by three relational dimensions: (a) the broader social context of coercion and its influence on the values and attitudes of stakeholders; (b) the oppressive systems and structures within the treatment setting; and (c) the limited personal capacity to exercise autonomy in people with SUDs. This work revealed the multidimensionality of people with SUDs’ limitations in exercising their autonomy within a mental health care setting. An understanding of autonomy as relational could promote reflection and stimulate innovation when approaching patients within these facilities.

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