The Impact of a Vocational Counseling Based Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Program upon Work and Well-Being: A Pilot Study

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
William Leigh. Atherton (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Paul J. Toriello

Abstract: Even though recovery from Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) involves changes among a number of life domains services have traditionally focused on abstinence from substances. Cursory attention is placed on holistic treatment approaches for persons with SUDs such as vocational counseling services to address employment related concerns. In response to this need the purpose of this study was to explore the influence of an innovative treatment approach for individuals with SUDs. Specifically an exploration of the impact of an innovative intervention that prepares consumers in SUD treatment for gainful employment for the purpose of improving work and well-being outcomes was conducted. Participants were consumers who received services from a Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Program at East Carolina University and consented to participate (N = 69). Based on Life-Course theory and previous literature on the interplay of employment and the treatment of SUDs the following research questions and hypotheses were generated. Research question 1 explored the impact of consumer demographic factors on SAIOP participation. Research question 2 explored the impact of SAIOP participation on work and well-being outcomes and was tested through the following five hypotheses: (1) The longer the SAIOP participation the more likely the participants were to be employed full- or part-time; (2 - 5) As participants' SAIOP participation increased the severity of their employment issue alcohol use drug use and psychiatric issue problem severity would decrease. For research question 1 results revealed one significant association where consumers with no high school education had more participation hours in job readiness training than those with a high school degree or GED. For research question 2 the results revealed support for hypothesis 1 that longer hours of participation was associated with an increased likelihood of employment and hypothesis 4 that longer hours of participation was associated with a decrease in drug use problem severity. The results did not show support for hypotheses 2 3 or 5. The results demonstrate the interplay between work and treatment for SUDs. Further this study shows support re-conceptualizing SUDs treatment delivery to include a more life-course holistic approach. Thus this study has implications for rehabilitation counselors and administrators. 

Additional Information

Date: 2012
Counseling psychology, Integrated care, Substance abuse, vocational counseling

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