Abstract: Faith Communities Readiness to Engage in Addictions Recovery Programming (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

664P Faith Communities Readiness to Engage in Addictions Recovery Programming

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Dnika J. Travis, PhD
Christian Vazquez, MSW, Doctoral Student, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Richard Spence, PhD
Drew Brooks
Background/Purpose: Spirituality and religion are well-documented and essential components of prevention, treatment, and recovery of substance use disorders. Faith communities in particular can play an essential part in this, but there can be undesirable outcomes for those navigating substance use disorders and seeking help from the faith community when their congregation is not prepared to support an individual or group in need. Research is limited in how best to support faith communities at the organizational level in undertaking this critical work. This study highlights key predictors of faith communities’ improvements in readiness to engage in addictions recovery programming.

Methods: Seven faith-based congregations engaged in leadership and congregation team ministry development programming for 24-months. Pre- and post-test data was collected from the congregants (n=1205) of these faith-based congregations at baseline and 24-months. The outcome of interest was the change in organizational readiness from baseline to 24-months. Three variables captured at pre- and post-test were included as key independent variables. Perceived importance captured members’ beliefs on the importance that the faith community helps those with addictions to alcohol and/or drugs. Awareness of resources captured members’ knowledge of supportive resources within the congregation or community with regard to handling addiction-related issues. Supportive community captured one’s perception of the supportiveness of their congregation’s environment with regard to handling addiction-related issues. Using mixed effects linear regression, a main effects model was tested with readiness to support recovery from substance use disorders as the dependent variable; a time variable as a covariate to differentiate between pre- and post-test, the three key independent variables, and demographic variables (faith tradition and geographic region) in the model. Three separate follow-up analyses were conducted using the same main effects model as above, with the addition of a single interaction variable consisting of one of the three key independent variables and the time. Interactions were probed by comparing marginal means.

Results: A t-test indicated there was a significant difference in the scores for congregational readiness at baseline (M=1.59, SD=1.42) and 24-months (M=2.11, SD=1.56); t(1098)=-5.83, p< .001). Main effects for the mixed effects linear regression model indicated that all three key independent variables were significant predictors of higher congregational readiness score. Random effects analyses resulted in no significant variability among congregations (0.004, 95% CI: <.001, 212.82). Follow-up analyses examining interactions between each of the three key independent variables and time resulted in a significant interaction between time and awareness of resources (B=0.34, 95% CI: 0.005, 0.67). On average, there was a 0.31 (95% CI: 0.13, 0.48) change in congregational readiness score for those who said yes to awareness of resources at baseline and 24-months.

Conclusions: Awareness of resources within the congregation or community with regard to handling addiction-related issues is a key lever of change for congregations to focus on to begin to support recovery from substance use disorders. Promotional activities to increase awareness of existing congregational recovery support resources and activities, and testimonials from members who endorse congregational engagement in the program may be important actions for congregations to take.