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September 2021

An ethnographic study of the longitudinal course of substance abuse among people with severe mental illness

Author(s): Alverson, M., Drake, R. E.

Journal/Book: Community Ment Health J. 2000; 36: 233 Spring St, New York, NY 10013-1578, USA. Kluwer Academic-Human Sciences Press. 557-569.

Abstract: A two-year ethnography conducted among 16 dually diagnosed clients yielded two longitudinal findings. First, four ''positive quality of life'' factors were strongly correlated with clients' efforts to cease using addictive substances: (1) regular engagement in an enjoyable activity; (2) decent, stable housing; (3) a loving relationship with someone sober who accepts the person's mental illness; and (4:) a positive, valued relationship with a mental health professional. Second, the study revealed that five ''negative background factors'' in participants' childhood homes were predictive of long-term continuation of substance use: (1) substance abuse in childhood home, (2) childhood household in dire poverty, (3) ''non-functional'' household members, (4) reporting of abuse imputed to care-givers, and (5) serious mental illness in household. The implications of these findings for treatment are discussed.

Note: Article Alverson H, Dartmouth Coll, Dept Anthropol, 6047 Carpenter Hall, Hanover,NH 03755 USA


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