A Novel Approach to Understanding Recovering Persons’ Relationship Dynamics: Injection Heroin Users

Approximately 22.5 million Americans or 9.4% of the U.S. population struggle with a substance abuse disorder, and 7 million are opiate abusers. Opiate overdoses have now surpassed automobile fatalities and is the leading cause of accidental death in the US [1]. One way to better understand this significant social problem is through social networks. These networks are a key provider of social, emotional, and human capital. It is possible that heroin users have difficulties developing ties with non-using friends which creates barriers to identifying and mobilizing the capital needed for successful reentry outcomes. Yet, there is a limited body of social network research with people reentering the community after substance abuse. This leaves the question about how to best understand and even change personal social networks of heroin users during recovery. Our study reviews social resource attainment in recovering heroin users in mutual help settings, and shows how network analysis can help better understand heroin use and recovery.

Author(s): Sarah Callahan and Leonard A Jason*

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