New Study Reveals Crucial Insights About Addiction Recovery

In light of the alarming rise in problematic alcohol and drug use across the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recently stressed the need for timely data to meet the demands of this growing crisis.

New Study Reveals Crucial Insights About Addiction Recovery

In light of the alarming rise in problematic alcohol and drug use across the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recently stressed the need for timely data to meet the demands of this growing crisis.  In response to this ongoing need, Dr. Jason Runyan and his colleagues at Indiana Wesleyan University—in collaboration with a local substance use disorder (SUD) treatment program—recently conducted a study examining growth and relapse in the daily lives of individuals in recovery.

In their study—published today in Scientific Reports—Dr. Runyan and his research team used a smartphone app to capture real-time data from individuals in a SUD residential recovery home in Indiana, a state deeply affected by the opioid epidemic.  Examining the daily experiences and behaviors of these individuals—a method called experience sampling—enabled them to uncover predictors for relapse as well as for personal growth in the recovery process.

Consistent with previous research, Runyan and his team found that, while impulsivity predicted relapse, having the sense that there were people in one’s life that one could count on decreased the likelihood of relapsing.  Further investigation revealed that, when participants had the sense there were people they could count on and experienced just one close interaction with another person, their mood increased and they were less likely to interpret life events as stressful.  This, in turn, predicted a decrease in the likelihood they would behave impulsively.  Additionally, when participants had the sense that there were people they could count on and experienced an increase in mood, they also experienced greater self-control, and behaved less impulsively, even under stress.

In a follow-up experiment, Runyan and his team further observed that having people spend just a few minutes thinking about 2 to 3 people who they knew cared for and supported them increased self-control and decreased impulsivity.  The more individuals practiced this over the course of a week, the greater the effect.  

Overall, this study supports the longstanding theory that experiencing supportive relationships is protective against addictive behaviors by providing evidence that it has this effect by reducing the need to use self-control throughout the day while, at the same time, strengthening this ability.  In this way, this study connects research on the protective effects of social support with other lines of research indicating that self-control is a limited resource, which—like a muscle—can be worn out. 

As Nathan Brooks—one of the researchers involved in the study—noted, “We observed, not just from our data but from normal, day-to-day interaction with members of the recovery home, the way that social support empowered and uplifted individuals through the recovery process. The data suggests that a residential recovery home is a preferred model when it comes to interventions, where individuals in recovery receive daily support and encouragement from those with whom they gather, work, and live.”

While further research is needed, these findings underscore the urgent need to address relational isolation and cultivate close supportive networks within communities to prevent problematic substance use and promote personal growth in recovery. For more information about this study, please visit the research lab website at www.emaresearch.org or email Dr. Jason Runyan at jason.runyan@indwes.edu.

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Celebrating the Achievement of Occupational Therapy Doctorate Graduates

Indiana Wesleyan University Celebrates the Achievements of Occupational Therapy Doctorate Graduates

Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) is proud to announce recent accomplishments of three occupational therapy doctorate program graduates, highlighting their impactful capstone projects and contributions to the field of occupational therapy. Under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Rachel Timmons, Doctoral Capstone Coordinator and various faculty mentors, these graduates have demonstrated