Jun 15, 2023
Published in: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 131 (December 2021). doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108392
Posted on rand.org Jun 27, 2023
Social networks are important predictors of alcohol-related outcomes, especially among those with a DUI where riskier social networks are associated with increased risk of drinking and driving. Social networks are increasingly a target for intervention; however, no studies have examined and measured whether longitudinal changes in social networks are associated with reductions in impaired driving.
The current study first examines longitudinal changes in social networks among participants receiving services following a first-time DUI, and then examines the association between network change and drinking outcomes at 4- and 10-month follow-up.
The study surveyed a subsample of participants (N=94) enrolled in a clinical trial of individuals randomized to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or usual care (UC) on an iPad using EgoWeb 2.0-an egocentric social network data collection software-about pre-DUI and post-DUI networks and their short- and long-term drinking behaviors.
Participants were 65% male, 48% Hispanic, and an average of 32.5 years old. Overall, participants significantly reduced the proportion of network members with whom they drank from 0.41 to 0.30 (p=.001) and with whom they drank more alcohol than they wanted to from 0.15 to 0.07 (p=.0001) from two weeks prior to the DUI (measured at baseline) to 4-month follow-up. Furthermore, decreases in proportion of drinking partners over time were associated with reduced drinks per week, self-reported driving after drinking, and intentions to drive after drinking at 4-month follow-up. Participants who reported decreases in proportion of drinking partners also reported significantly less binge drinking at 10-month follow-up. Finally, increases in emotional support were associated with decreases in binge drinking at 4-month follow-up. The study found no differences in the changes in composition of networks between CBT and UC groups.
These results suggest that individuals receiving services in DUI programs significantly reduced risky network members over time and that these social network changes were associated with reduced drinking and other indicators of risk for DUI recidivism. Clinical interventions that target reductions in risky network members may improve outcomes for those enrolled in a DUI program.