This study examined predictors of perceived social support and support forrecovery of women with substance use disorders or co-occurring substance use and
mental disorders. The sample consisted of 136 adult women; 86 women were engaged in
inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, and 50 women were
recruited from a study of mothers with cocaine exposed infants.
The women in the study were predominantly African American (82.4%) and of
low income status with 80% of the women reporting an annual family income below
$15,000. All of the women had a current substance use disorder and 77 (56.6%) of the women also had a co-occurring mental disorder including: Major Depression, Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mania, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Hypomania, and
Dysthymia. On average, women reported having a social network comprised of 10.73
A significant relationship was found between critical members (those who
provide negative support) within women’s social networks and perceived social support, with a higher percent of critical network members predicting lower perceived social support. Perceived social support scores were also significantly lower for women with a co-occurring mental disorder. Indirect relationships were found for women’s perceived social support. The percent of professionals within women’s social networks moderated the relationships between women’s treatment motivation and treatment status with perceived social support. The percent of substance users in women’s networks moderated the relationship between treatment motivation and perceived social support.
A sub sample analysis of 86 women in substance abuse treatment explored
predictors of support for recovery. A significant relationship was found between the percent of members who support sobriety and support for recovery. This finding
provides construct validity for the support for recovery measure.
Practice implications as well as directions for future research are included in this study. Findings suggest that clinicians should work with social network members and clients on improving communication and eliminating critical support to improve social support. Future research should focus on the impact of social relationships on treatment outcomes.