GERSH, DAVID MARK; PHD

                         UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, 1986

                         PSYCHOLOGY, CLINICAL (0622)

                         Social Network theory offers an excellent perspective for understanding recovery from substance abuse.
                         The therapeutic community (TC) provides a setting that is particularly well suited for investigating this
                         phenomenon. The present cross-sectional research examined the relationship between social network
                         characteristics and treatment status in two modalities: residential and outpatient drug-free.
                         Homogeneous samples of new and senior clients in good standing were selected in a systematic,
                         nonprobability fashion, using a census of eligible respondents in each cohort. Interviews were
                         conducted according to structured formats eliciting multiple indicators of network properties and
                         membership characteristics along with data on attitudes and community performance. Univariate tests
                         established group differences in network characteristics. Data reduction by factor analysis yielded five
                         diverse network dimensions that explained 100% of the common variance. Multiple analyses produced
                         consistent results. Both residential treatment groups (Re-entry and aftercare) had an abundance of
                         close-knit ties and support providers, a peer group that promoted abstinence and a positive attitude
                         toward help-seeking. In comparison, Residential Admissions were significantly more likely to rely on kin,
                         had a more stable though dysfunctional network membership, lacked depth in both quality and quantity
                         of ties, felt less satisfied with friendships and had lower expectations of support. Outpatient Treatment
                         clients, in comparison with Aftercare subjects, were more likely to have network members with whom they
                         had past drug involvement, were more dependent on relations of obligation, had more durable
                         associations and had less substitutability in source of support. The networks of the residential treatment
                         cohorts were very much alike and dominated by program peers and staff of recent origin. Their networks
                         appeared to have undergone the most radical change since admission. Regression analyses portrayed
                         residential treatment as playing a primary role in enhancing network strength and achieving a break from
                         past associations. A positive network orientation seems to be a byproduct of treatment, regardless of
                         type. Dependence on kin appears connected to past dysfunctionality and lack of involvement in
                         conventional activities. These findings are discussed in light of social network theory and measurement,
                         network reconstruction as an empirically supportable rehabilitation strategy for substance abusers and
                         implication for intervention and research, with broader considerations concerning TCs.


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