Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Recovery, Recovery Capital, Self-efficacy, Treatment

Major Advisor

Brenda Kurz, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Linda Frisman, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Nina Rovinelli Heller, Ph.D.

Associate Advisor

Meredith Hanson, DSW

Field of Study

Social Work


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This retrospective study examined the factors affecting recovery from alcohol dependence and drug dependence. A convenience sample of 263 respondents with varying lengths of recovery from a national recovery community organization and a Connecticut-based recovery community organization completed an anonymous on-line survey. The survey, which used both closed-ended and open-ended questions, was designed to collect information on drug and alcohol use and factors that contributed to the respondents’ recovery from substance dependence during the respondents’ first year of recovery. Recovery capital, which has its theoretical foundations in social capital theory and ecological theory, was the primary construct investigated. For this study, recovery capital was conceptualized as affiliation with twelve step groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous), social support, spirituality, and respondents’ financial situation during their first year of recovery. It was hypothesized that greater levels of recovery capital are associated with higher levels of alcohol abstinence self-efficacy, and drug abstinence self-efficacy. Bandura originally conceptualized self-efficacy as those internal and external factors, which motivate a person to change behavior. Researchers operationalized this to measure the level of self-efficacy to abstain from drug, and/or alcohol use. The relationship between recovery and substance abuse treatment was also investigated. It was hypothesized that the level of self-efficacy to abstain from alcohol and drug use is moderated by completion of substance abuse treatment during the first year of recovery. Findings revealed that recovery capital is a statistically significant predictor of alcohol abstinence self-efficacy and drug abstinence self-efficacy. Findings did not support the hypothesis that treatment completion acts as a moderator for recovery capital and substance abstinence self-efficacy. The answers to open-ended questions also reflected the importance of 12-step affiliation, social support, and spirituality in successful recovery. The study concluded by discussing the relevance of recovery capital construct for guiding social work practice and education. Given the salience of the recovery capital domains in positively influencing ongoing substance use recovery, the researcher proposed the inclusion of spirituality and 12-Step philosophy as integral components in social work treatment and social work education.