Document Type



We examined the experiences of women in treatment for substance dependence and their treatment providers about personal networks and recovery. We conducted six focus groups at three women’s intensive substance abuse treatment programs. Four coders used thematic analysis to guide the data coding and an iterative process to identify major themes. Coders identified social network characteristics that enabled and impeded recovery and a reciprocal relationship between internal states, relationship management, and recovery. Although women described adding individuals to their networks, they also described managing existing relationships through distancing from or isolating some members to diminish their negative impact on recovery. Treatment providers identified similar themes, but focused more on contextual barriers than the women. The focus of interventions with this population should be on both internal barriers to personal network change such as mistrust and fear, and helping women develop skills for managing enduring network relationships.


Social Work | Substance Abuse and Addiction


This is an Accepted Manuscript, after peer review, of an article to be published by Sage in Qualitative Health Research. An advance version, © the authors, is also available online at: This version has been formatted for archiving.