Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Bryan Lee Miller

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Costello

Committee Member

Dr. Natallia Sianko


The importance of social bonds in supporting those in substance use recovery is illustrious through applications of social bonding theory. However, the effect of COVID-19 restrictions on these essential relationships has not been widely studied. The initial survey instrument studying social support, religious support, and substance use patterns before, during, and after COVID-19 was met with methodological difficulty in reaching the target population through email. This instrument was adapted into a semi-structured interview guide and methodology evolved to include participation either in-person or over Zoom. Through 14 in-depth interviews with people in substance use recovery programs, themes of isolation, peer support, and spirituality emerged. Despite the initial hypotheses of reduced social and religious support due to isolation, where isolation persisted, peer support and spirituality prevailed. Instead of turning inward upon pandemic-imposed seclusion, those in recovery tended to reach out, being met with an abundance of peer support and spiritual guidance, through virtual or modified in-person means. These findings speak to the importance of maintaining virtual accessibility for peer support services and spiritual engagements.



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