Visualizing the influence of social networks on recovery: a mixed-methods social identity mapping study with recovering adolescents

Emily A. Hennessy, Jordan Jurinsky, Kiefer Cowie, Agata Pietrzak, Sophie Blyth, Paige Krasnoff, David Best, Mark Litt, Blair T. Johnson, John F. Kelly

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Social recovery capital (SRC) refers to resources and supports gained through relationships and is vital to adolescent addiction recovery. Much is known about how substance use relates to social networks, but little is known about how other dimensions of social networks influence recovery (e.g., network size/exposure, degree of conflict).

This mixed-methods study sampled 28 adolescents who received treatment for alcohol and other drug (AOD) use disorder (14-19 yrs.: 71% male; M=17.32 yrs., SD=1.33; White 82%): 20 were recovery high school (RHS) students. Adolescents completed a social identity map for addiction recovery (SIM-AR), survey, and interview. Qualitative data were content analyzed and the data from the SIM-AR were quantified.

On average, participants reported belonging to five having 5 distinct groups (Range, 2-9; SD=1.63; M=27.89 people, SD = 20.09) in their network. Of their social network connections, on average, 51% drank alcohol and 46% used other substances. Larger networks involved more conflict (r=0.57). Participants were more likely to spend more time with groups that had greater proportions of non-substance usinge members; these relationships were stronger for RHS than for non-RHS students. Qualitative analyses revealed that youth reported their recovery-oriented groups as supportive, yet some felt their substance-using friends also supported their recovery.

SIM-AR was a useful measurement tool, and, through qualitative interviews, we identified unique aspects of youth’s social networks important for further examination. Research with recovering youth should examine SRC-related elements within their networks including relationship quality, belonging, and conflict, in addition to the substance use behaviors of network members.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSubstance Use And Misuse
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2024


  • addiction
  • adolescent
  • recovery capital
  • social capital
  • social network


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