Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen M. Ingram

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura J. Moriarty


ABSTRACTRECOVERY FROM SUBSTANCE ABUSE: THE ROLE OF UNSUPPORTIVE SOCIAL INTERATIONSBy Michelle M. Schmitt, M.A., M.S. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University.Virginia Commonwealth University, 2003Major Director: Kathleen M. Ingram, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology It has been estimated that over 20 million individuals struggle with substance abuse and/or dependence each year. Theories of addiction and recovery have long incorporated the notion of social support and helping relationships to facilitate adjustment. However, the literature investigating the role of social support is fraught with contradictions. In addition, in substance abusing populations, researchers have just begun to investigate social support as having negative, as well as positive implications. Historically with these populations, interpersonal conflict and loss of relationships were investigated as negative life events, rather than types of unsupportive social interactions. This study was designed to explore how positive and negative social relationships are associated with adjustment among individuals struggling with addiction. Ninety-seven individuals, who were currently participants in two Drug Court programs, completed measures of global positive social support (the 6-item Social Support Questionnaire), recovery-specific positive social support (Important People & Activities Instrument, brief version), recovery-specific unsupportive social interactions (Unsupportive Social Interactions Inventory), recovery-specific cognitive threat appraisals, and well-being (Situational Confidence Questionnaire and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale). Information regarding treatment attendance and positive urine toxicology reports was gleaned from treatment records. Results suggested that global positive social support accounted for the greatest proportion of variance in the well-being outcomes of self-efficacy for recovery and depression. Global positive social support eclipsed the role of recovery-specific unsupportive social interactions in relation to well-being. However, recovery-specific unsupportive social interactions were found pertinent to this population. None of the survey variables were significantly related to treatment attendance, and only self-efficacy for recovery was related to continued drug use (urine toxicology screenings). Implications for future research and interventions to enhance the well-being of individuals in recovery are discussed.


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