SEX DIFFERENCES IN SOCIAL SUPPORT AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS: IMPLICATIONS FOR MECHANISMS OF CHANGE AND TREATMENT OUTCOMES Sex Differences in Social Support and Substance Use Disorders: Implications for Mechanisms of Change and Treatment Outcomes

Deena Faleck, Marsha Bates, Deena Faleck, Marsha Bates
Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) often draw on support from their social networks to perpetuate gains made during addiction treatment. Sex differences exist in the function of social networks, the ways in which individuals are influenced by their network members, and in substance use behaviors. We examined whether treatment-seeking men and women differed in the nature of their social support at treatment entry and whether individuals with abstinence versus substance using social
more » ... tance using social support networks differed in substance use and work status at 12 months follow-up. This study included 469 women and 1,379 men from the combined Project MATCH (Matching Alcoholism Treatments to Client Heterogeneity) and Project ARC (Rutgers Alcohol Research Center) samples. Latent class analysis was used to identify unique groups of individuals based on the nature of social support for abstinence or use at treatment entry and the frequency of contact with network members. Individuals were then classified based on the probability of their network membership. Regression analyses were used to determine the relationship of social support class membership and sex to substance use and work status iii at follow-up. Men and women differed in the makeup of their social support networks and all subsequent analyses were therefore performed separately for each. Men and women were classified separately into four and five social networks, respectively, based on the statistical and conceptual meaningfulness of the models. There was a significant difference in the substance using patterns at follow-up among men between the Limited Negative (LN) class and all other classes, with members of this class reporting the fewest days abstinent. Among women, no significant differences between classes in days abstinent were detected. Furthermore, the difference between classes in the quality of life (QOL) outcome measure, work status, was not statistically significant. The results highlight the impact of negative social support on substance use behaviors, particularly among men, and the potential importance of addressing the makeup of social networks in an effort to improve outcomes. Future studies should investigate further sex differences in the impact of social support for abstinence and substance use. This knowledge may offer providers insight into the development and maintenance of the disorders and the most beneficial treatment approaches. iv Acknowledgements