Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Self-Efficacy and Sense of Community among Adults Recovering from Substance Abuse

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Self-Efficacy and Sense of Community among Adults Recovering from Substance Abuse

Article excerpt

Maintaining abstinence for individuals in recovery from substance abuse is a challenging task. Post treatment relapse rates vary across studies and definitions of relapse (Walitzer & Dearing, 2006) but often exceed 50% within 12 months of treatment. For example, Jason, Olson, Ferrari, Majer, et al. (2007) found approximately 65% of individuals exiting substance abuse treatment did not remain abstinent two years following the end of substance abuse treatment. Among a sample of over 2,200 participants, Ilgen, McKellar, and Tiet (2005) found a 69% relapse rate at a one year follow-up. In addition, Witkiewitz and Marlatt (2007) surveyed studies and found relapse rate definitions ranging from no substance use up to no greater than 50% of pre-treatment levels. These findings underscore the difficulty of individuals remaining abstinent following substance abuse treatment.

Bandura (1977) theorized the importance of self efficacy, which is the belief one can successfully perform a task or a particular behavior change. Individuals in recovery from substance use often engage in a number of behavioral changes, with the most critical being maintaining an absence of drug or alcohol use. Thus, their self efficacy to remain clean and sober is important to the recovery process (Bandura, 1999). Research on the relationship between substance abuse and self efficacy has supported the significance of self efficacy in the recovery process (Moos, 2007).

Abstinence-specific self-efficacy, or confidence associated with future drug and/or alcohol use, predicted relapse and recovery in former substance abusers (e.g. Ilgen, McKellar & Moos, 2007; Jason, Davis, Ferrari & Anderson, 2007; Jason, Olson et al., 2007; Trucco, Connery, Griffen & Greenfield, 2007). Ilgen et al. (2005) found 100% confidence in ability to abstain from substance use to be the strongest predictor of abstinence at one year follow up. In addition, many studies demonstrated that individuals who leave substance abuse treatment programs with high abstinence specific self efficacy have lower relapse rates than individuals who leave treatment with low abstinence specific self efficacy (Ilgen, McKellar & Moos, 2007; Ilgen, Tiet, Finney & Moos, 2006; Moos & Moos, 2006). Further, research found high self efficacy upon completion of treatment to influence both short term (1 year) and long term (16 years) recovery outcomes (McKellar, Ilgen, Moos & Moos, 2008).

Sarason (1974) defined psychological sense of community as a construct that focuses on the ability of a community or social network to promote psychological well being and quality of life for its members. McMillan and Chavis (1986) elaborated on this definition and provided a theoretical framework for sense of community. The framework identified four components fundamental for a sense of community: membership, influence, integration and needs fulfillment, and a shared emotional connection among members (McMillan & Chavis, 1986). Bishop, Chertok and Jason (1997) investigated sense of community within a population in substance abuse recovery. They proposed that three factors reflect sense of community for persons residing in recovery facilities: mission, reciprocal responsibility, and disharmony. Mission refers to the shared goals and ideals by group members; reciprocal responsibility refers to shared responsibilities and mutual support; and disharmony refers to discord among group members (Bishop et al., 1997; Graham, Jason, Ferrari & Davis, 2009).

Past research has suggested a relationship between psychological sense of community and subjective well-being (such as happiness; Davidson & Cotter, 1991). For individuals in recovery, sense of community has been researched in sober living environments; however, the relationship between sense of community and self-efficacy has not been studied (Bishop et al., 1997; Curtis, Jason, Olson & Ferrari, 2005; d'Arlach, Olson, Jason & Ferrari, 2006; Graham et al. …

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