top of page

Problem Drug Use in Social Context: New Research

Updated: Aug 29

Editor’s note: It’s graduation season, which means a slew of new dissertations! In today’s post, we include a few recent projects concerning technological interventions in problematic drug use. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography continuously compiled by Jonathon Erlen, selections of which were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Illness Representation, Coping, and Treatment Outcomes in Substance Use Disorders

Author: Prater, Kimberly A.

Abstract: This study examined the relationship between illness representation, coping, and treatment adherence in substance use disorders (SUDs). Illness representation refers to the way in which an individual cognitively understands his or her illness. Leventhal, Meyer, and Nerenz’s (1980) Self-Regulation Model (SRM) is one theoretical model of illness representation that addresses how cognitive factors influence illness coping behaviors and outcome. The SRM has been applied extensively to understanding patient perspectives of physical illness. More recently, the model has been applied to individuals with psychological disorders, including psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and eating disorders. In the mental health literature, illness representation has been found to be related to, and at times predictive of, behavioral outcomes, such as treatment adherence. The present study is notable because it is the first to examine the SRM in substance use disorders (SUDs). Moreover, this is one of the first longitudinal studies examining the relationship between the SRM and outcome in a mental health population. The sample was comprised of 70 patients with SUDs who were receiving outpatient treatment at the St. Luke-Roosevelt Hospital’s Addiction Institute of New York. The findings provided partial support for the study’s hypotheses. Specifically (a) patients who identified a psychological or behavioral cause of their SUD were more likely to be treatment adherent, (b) patients who perceived some personal control over their SUD were more likely to be treatment adherent, and (c) several illness representation dimensions were associated with various coping styles in SUD patients. The SRM appears to be a valid model for understanding SUDs, and the Brief IPQ a reliable and valid tool for assessing illness representation in SUDs. The current results underscore the necessity and value of conducting further research to inform the further development of empirically supported SUD treatment approaches.

Publication year: 2015

Advisor: Glenwick, David

Committee member: Annunziato, Rachel; Kim, Se-Kang; Marcotte, David; Ruggiero, Joseph

University/institution: Fordham University

Department: Psychology

The Interaction of Alcohol Placebo, Attention, and Social Anxiety

Author: Lechner, William V.

Abstract: The current study examined the interaction of alcohol placebo, attentional load, and anxious anticipation of an upcoming social stressor in terms of RSA, electromyographic startle response, tonic skin conductance, and self-reported anxiety. Results revealed increases in RSA, skin conductance, and startle response from the baseline condition to the experimental condition. Additionally, group differences were observed in terms of RSA but not in skin conductance or startle response. Pairwise comparisons based on a-priori hypotheses revealed that differences in change scores from baseline to experimental session were significant for the Placebo + Distract and Control + Distract groups but not for the Placebo + Anticipate or the Control + Anticipate groups. That is, the Placebo + Distract group evinced significantly more heart rate variability (indicative of lower anxiety) during the experimental session as compared to the Control + Distract group. However, the Placebo + Anticipate group did not demonstrate the same decreases in anxiety in comparison to the Control + Anticipate group. Taken together, it appears that there may be an anxiolytic benefit of alcohol placebo for individuals who are distracted from anticipating an upcoming social stressor but not for those who are attending to the anticipation of a social stressor. The current results suggest that individuals experiencing cognitive processes associated with social anxiety disorder (anticipatory processing) may experience less reduction in anxiety from the placebo effects of alcohol as compared to those not engaging in cognitive processes associated with social anxiety disorder.

Publication year: 2015

Advisor: Grant, DeMond M.

Committee member: Leffingwell, Thad; Wiener, Josh; Wingate, Laricka

University/institution: Oklahoma State University

Department: Psychology

The Importance and Benefits of Medical Students Receiving Immersion Training on Substance Use Disorders: A Heuristic Study

Author: McDonnell, Joseph, Jr.

Abstract: Substance use disorders are detrimental to individuals, families, and society in a variety of ways. Substance use disorders have a far ranging sphere of influence that impact mortality rates, treatment, co-occurring disorders, economic distress; along with social, psychological, behavioral, and biological impacts. While there may be different views on how to treat substance abuse disorders, there is a definitive need for adequate training of medical education students as it relates to addictive disease. Adequate training will allow for the appropriate diagnosis of such disorders and prevention of further collateral damage associated with substance abuse disorders. To gauge the gravity and nature of this prevailing issue, this dissertation takes a heuristic approach focusing on the personal journey of medical students receiving immersion training at the medical education program at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California.

Publication year: 2016

Advisor: Brodie, Laura A.

Committee member: Webster, Terry L.

University/institution: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Department: Applied Clinical Psychology

bottom of page