Changing Network Support for Drinking: Initial Findings From the Network Support Project

Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, United States
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Impact Factor: 4.85). 09/2007; 75(4):542-55. DOI: 10.1037/0022-006X.75.4.542
Source: PubMed


The aim of this study was to determine whether a socially focused treatment can effect change in the patient's social network from one that reinforces drinking to one that reinforces sobriety. Alcohol dependent men and women (N = 210) recruited from the community were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 outpatient treatment conditions: network support (NS), network support + contingency management (NS + CM), or case management (CaseM; a control condition). Analysis of drinking rates for 186 participants at 15 months indicated a significant interaction effect of Treatment x Time, with both NS conditions yielding better outcomes than the CaseM condition. Analyses of social network variables at posttreatment indicated that the NS conditions did not reduce social support for drinking relative to the CaseM condition but did increase behavioral and attitudinal support for abstinence as well as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) involvement. Both the NS variables and AA involvement variables were significantly correlated with drinking outcomes. These findings indicate that drinkers' social networks can be changed by a treatment that is specifically designed to do so, and that these changes contribute to improved drinking outcomes.

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    • "smoking by a friend) was 61% higher, 29% higher at two degrees of separation and 11% higher at three degrees of separation. The current findings emphasise the primacy of social networks in enabling recovery and the findings of Litt and colleagues [10] would also suggest that this can be manipulated clinically to build the social resources for recovery, thus building positive recovery capital [14]. This is consistent with peer-based recovery support systems [28] [29], in which role models are central in sustaining recovery efforts through social learning, social support and guidance. "
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    ABSTRACT: The study investigates what 'recovery' means for those who describe themselves as in alcohol or drug recovery. The project used multiple methods-snowballing, recruitment through recovery groups and advertisements in local press-to recruit 205 people (107 in alcohol and 98 in heroin recovery) who reported a lifetime dependence on alcohol and/or heroin; had not used their primary substance in the last year and perceived themselves to be either recovered or in recovery. They were interviewed by researchers using a structured questionnaire reported in the current paper and a semi-structured interview reported elsewhere. The average time dependent for heroin users was 10.8 years and for drinkers 15.7years, but onset and desistance were earlier for heroin. Longer time since last use of alcohol or heroin was associated with better quality of life. Greater engagement in meaningful activities was associated with better functioning, and was associated with quality of life, followed by number of peers in recovery in the social network. Heroin users in abstinent recovery generally reported better functioning than those in maintained recovery. Recovery experiences vary widely, but better functioning is typically reported after longer periods and is associated with supportive peer groups and more engagement in meaningful activities, and supports models promoting the development of peer networks immersed in local communities.
    Drug and Alcohol Review 05/2011; 31(3):334-41. DOI:10.1111/j.1465-3362.2011.00321.x · 1.55 Impact Factor
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    • "recovering alcoholic by helping him or her maintain important social networks (Litt et al., 2007). Many established treatment models contain principles rooted in the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), such as the pursuit of abstinence as a common goal (Borkman et al., 2007. "
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    ABSTRACT: This phenomenological inquiry investigated the loneliness experienced by recovering alcoholics. Select participants responded to open-ended interview questions pertaining to their experience of loneliness as well as its impact on their lives. Moreover, participants were asked to indentify what factor or factors may have contributed to the onset or persistence of their loneliness. Phenomenological analysis of the data revealed that loneliness, as experienced by recovering alcoholics, is a recursive experience that is co-morbid with a number of debilitating affects. Therefore, the loneliness that was experienced during recovery represented just one part of a combination of painful affective experiences. In addition, the data revealed a number of factors that contributed to the experience of loneliness for recovering alcoholics. Information obtained from this study may allow treatment providers to possess a better understanding of how the lives of recovering alcoholics can be influenced by the presence of loneliness and its accompanying affects.
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    • "No other study to date has been able to demonstrate lasting effects on drinkers' social environments. As in our earlier report (Litt et al., 2007), AA attendance and increasing the number of non-drinking friends in the social network were strong (direct and indirect) predictors of outcome, appearing to result in increased abstinence in part due to effects on selfefficacy . The program, however, did not work for everyone. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Network Support Project was designed to determine whether a treatment could lead patients to change their social network from one that supports drinking to one that supports sobriety. This study reports 2-year posttreatment outcomes. Alcohol-dependent men and women (N = 210) were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 outpatient treatment conditions: network support (NS), network support + contingency management (NS + CM), or case management (CaseM, a control condition). Analysis of drinking rates indicated that the NS condition yielded up to 20% more days abstinent than the other conditions at 2 years posttreatment. NS treatment also resulted in greater increases at 15 months in social network support for abstinence, as well as in AA attendance and AA involvement than did the other conditions. Latent growth modeling suggested that social network changes were accompanied by increases in self-efficacy and coping that were strongly predictive of long-term drinking outcomes. The findings indicate that a network support treatment can effect long-term adaptive changes in drinkers' social networks and that these changes contribute to improved drinking outcomes in the long term.
    Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 05/2009; 77(2):229-42. DOI:10.1037/a0015252 · 4.85 Impact Factor
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