Personality, life events, coping and social support in the prediction of cocaine abuse relapse

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Robert C. McMahon - Committee Chair


This study investigated relationships among personality, and other clinically relevant variables such as stressful negative life events, coping styles and social support characteristics in the prediction of cocaine-abuse relapse following a course of treatment. The direct effects of each of these variables on cocaine relapse was examined as well. Millon's (1981) biopsychosocial theory of personality was used as the guiding theoretical orientation for the generation of hypotheses and for subsequent interpretation of the data.A correlational, prospective design was employed in this study. Adult, male cocaine abusers in drug treatment programs were assessed at four separate intervals: upon entry into the program, approximately one week prior to discharge from the program, three months after discharge (n = 113), and six months after discharge (n = 84). Personality was assessed using The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-II. Stressful life events were assessed using The Life Experiences Survey. Coping was assessed using The Ways of Coping Checklist. Social support was assessed using The Perceived Support Network Inventory, and relapse status was assessed using the Addiction Severity Index.Factor analysis of the scores obtained by substance abusers on the ten clinical personality scales of The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-II was chosen as the statistical method for the identification of personality dimensions in this sample of cocaine abusing men. Two factors resulted; the Independent personality factor and the Maladjustment personality factor. Hypotheses regarding the direct and interactive effects of these personality dimensions with negative life events, coping and social support were then tested through the application of partial correlation and multiple regression statistical analyses.A negative partial correlation was found between Independent personality factor scores and relapse while a positive partial correlation was found between scores on the Maladjustment personality factor and relapse. Positive partial correlations were found between perceived negative impact ratings for life events and relapse. A negative partial correlation was found between social support scores and relapse. Negative partial correlations were found between both Problem-focused and Emotion-focused scores on the Ways of Coping Checklist and relapse. Finally, a positive relationship was found between scores on the Maladjustment personality factor and scores on the Emotion-focused scale of the Ways of Coping Checklist.


Psychology, General; Psychology, Clinical

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