Social network variables in Alcoholics Anonymous: A literature review

Center for Community Research, DePaul University, Chicago, IL 60614, USA.
Clinical Psychology Review (Impact Factor: 7.18). 04/2008; 28(3):430-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2007.07.014
Source: PubMed


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most commonly used program for substance abuse recovery and one of the few models to demonstrate positive abstinence outcomes. Although little is known regarding the underlying mechanisms that make this program effective, one frequently cited aspect is social support. In order to gain insight into the processes at work in AA, this paper reviewed 24 papers examining the relationship between AA and social network variables. Various types of social support were included in the review such as structural support, functional support, general support, alcohol-specific support, and recovery helping. Overall, this review found that AA involvement is related to a variety of positive qualitative and quantitative changes in social support networks. Although AA had the greatest impact on friend networks, it had less influence on networks consisting of family members or others. In addition, support from others in AA was found to be of great value to recovery, and individuals with harmful social networks supportive of drinking actually benefited the most from AA involvement. Furthermore, social support variables consistently mediated AA's impact on abstinence, suggesting that social support is a mechanism in the effectiveness of AA in promoting a sober lifestyle. Recommendations are made for future research and clinical practice.


Available from: Leonard A Jason
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    • "Similarly, in a large social network of middle-aged adults, unhealthy drinkers were found to cluster together, and changes in drinking in the network prospectively predicted greater drinking at the level of the individual (Rosenquist et al., 2010). In addition, a number of recent studies have suggested that an important mechanism of Alcoholics Anonymous is fostering a more adaptive nondrinking social network (Groh et al., 2008; Kelly et al., 2011, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Alcohol misuse is substantially influenced by social factors, but systematic assessments of social network drinking are typically lengthy. The goal of the present study was to provide further validation of a brief measure of social network alcohol use, the Brief Alcohol Social Density Assessment (BASDA), in a sample of emerging adults. Specifically, the study sought to examine the BASDA's convergent, criterion, and incremental validity in relation to well-established measures of drinking motives and problematic drinking. Method: Participants were 354 undergraduates who were assessed using the BASDA, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and the Drinking Motives Questionnaire. Results: Significant associations were observed between the BASDA index of alcohol-related social density and alcohol misuse, social motives, and conformity motives, supporting convergent validity. Criterion-related validity was supported by evidence that significantly greater alcohol involvement was present in the social networks of individuals scoring at or above an AUDIT score of 8, a validated criterion for hazardous drinking. Finally, the BASDA index was significantly associated with alcohol misuse above and beyond drinking motives in relation to AUDIT scores, supporting incremental validity. Conclusions: Taken together, these findings provide further support for the BASDA as an efficient measure of drinking in an individual's social network. Methodological considerations as well as recommendations for future investigations in this area are discussed.
    Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs 09/2013; 74(5):810-5. DOI:10.15288/jsad.2013.74.810 · 2.76 Impact Factor
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    • "those recovering from severe heroin addiction), recovery from the social disruptions caused by the abuse is a simultaneous process, only rivaled in importance by quitting the drug [9]. A review on the effect of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a recovery support network, concludes that social support is a mechanism in its effectiveness [10]. Likewise, social capital, or aspects of one's relationships that facilitate action, help mitigate the problems of misuse and aid natural recovery [11,12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: There is a need for studies that can highlight principles of addiction recovery. Because social relationships are involved in all change processes, understanding how social motivations affect the recovery process is vital to guide support programs. The objective was to develop a model of recovery by examining addicted individuals' social motivations through longitudinal assessment of non-professional support dyads. A qualitative, longitudinal study design was used, combining focus groups and in-depth interviews with addicted individuals and their sponsors. Data were analyzed using the principles of grounded theory: open coding and memos for conceptual labelling, axial coding for category building, and selective coding for theory building. The setting was an addiction recovery social support program in Oslo, Norway. The informants included nine adults affected by addiction, six sponsors, and the program coordinator. The participants were addicted to either alcohol (2), benzodiazepines (1), pain killers (1) or polydrug-use (5). The sponsors were unpaid, and had no history of addiction problems. Support perceived to be ineffective emerged in dyads with no operationalized goal, and high emotional availability with low degree of practical support. Support perceived to be effective was signified by the sponsor attending to power imbalance and the addict coming into position to help others and feel useful. The findings appear best understood as a positive identity-model of recovery, indicated by the pursuit of skill building relevant to a non-drug using identity, and enabled by the on-going availability of instrumental support. This produced situations where role reversals were made possible, leading to increased self-esteem. Social support programs should be based on a positive identity-model of recovery that enable the building of a life-sustainable identity.
    BMC Psychiatry 07/2013; 13(1):201. DOI:10.1186/1471-244X-13-201 · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    • "Much of the prior research on social networks and substance abuse focused on adoption (e.g. social network influences of using) and maintenance of alcohol or drug usage [11]-[12]. Neaigus et al. [13], for instance, found that drug injectors with more frequent social contacts with non-injectors engaged in lower levels of injecting risk behavior. Buchanan and Latkin [14] examined the social networks for heroin and cocaine users. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although evidence exists that substance abuse abstinence is enhanced when individuals in recovery are embedded in social networks that are cohesive, few studies examined the network structures underlying recovery home support systems. In two studies, we investigated the mechanisms through which social environments affect health outcomes among two samples of adult residents of recovery homes. Findings from Study 1 (n = 150) indicated that network size and the presence of relationships with other Oxford House (OH) residents both predicted future abstinence. Study 2 (n = 490) included individuals who lived in an OH residence for up to 6 months, and their personal relationship with other house residents predicted future abstinence. Implications of these findings are discussed.
    05/2012; 1(3):4-12.
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