African American women and substance abuse: The impact of cumulative disadvantages and attachment patterns on addiction severity and treatment participation

Jacqueline Odell McKnight, Fordham University

Abstract

This study examined substance abuse treatment specific to African American women. African American women are disproportionately represented among the ranks of those who suffer from abuse of alcohol or other drugs. This analysis assessed 41 African American women in treatment at an upper Manhattan based substance abuse therapeutic community, a family focused facility in New York City. The study explored two key treatment outcome indicators, addiction severity and treatment participation. These factors were examined utilizing first the theoretical construct of cumulative disadvantages which was operationalized as socioeconomic status and traumatic life experiences, specific to interpersonal violence (emotional, physical and or sexual abuse). The second construct applied was attachment theory which is defined as the protective factor of social support. Each theoretical framework was examined with respect to the historical implications of those of African American descent. There was additionally a discussion of the constructs' theoretical underpinnings, basic tenets, applicability to the area of substance abuse and supportive research. This review provided substantive research on African American patterns of addiction, response to treatment, and utilization of available programming. ^ It was hypothesized that African American women in substance abuse treatment with high levels of cumulative disadvantages would have higher addiction severity rates and lower participation rates in treatment. Those however who had more attachment-social supports would have lower addiction severity rates and also high levels of participation. There was a noted positive moderate correlative with attachment-social supports and treatment participation. The sample size was small therefore external validity and significance was not found. This study however has provided substantial data to inform a knowledge base that can influence future practice, policy, and research.^

Subject Area

African American Studies|Health Sciences, Mental Health|Women's Studies

Recommended Citation

McKnight, Jacqueline Odell, "African American women and substance abuse: The impact of cumulative disadvantages and attachment patterns on addiction severity and treatment participation" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3557775.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3557775

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