Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair



Background and Purpose: Progress has been made in understanding substance use and its transmission, whether it be biological or environmental, yet there is a lack of research in understanding protective factors and the disruption of developing a substance use disorder. The study was aimed to fill the gap in our understanding of protective factors against familial transmission of substance use disorders by examining the association between family resilience and the risk of transmission to an offspring. We hypothesized that those without a substance use diagnosis would have higher levels of family functioning compared to those with a substance use diagnosis. Methods: This study gathered quantitative data using self-report questionnaire. Participants were recruited using nonprobability sampling. A structured 12 item scale was used to identify general family functioning. Individuals with at least one biological parent with a diagnosed substance use disorder were invited to participate through the Co-PI’s social network. Participants were asked a few demographic questions followed by questions about their family function, resilience, and substance use. This observational study used a cross-sectional independent sample t-test to examine the relationship between family resilience and its protection against familial transmission of substance use disorders. Descriptive statistics were generated to summarize demographics, number diagnosed with a substance use disorder, and level of family functioning. Findings: The study sample included 32 individuals who have a biological parent diagnosed with a substance use disorder. An ethnically diverse sample were mostly White, educated women with a religious affiliation. These participants were mostly individuals in their 30’s and college graduates. On average, participants with a substance use diagnosis reported higher levels of family functioning compared to those without a substance use diagnosis. About half of the participants reported their mother as being the biological parent with a substance use disorder. Results suggest that the difference in family functioning between the two groups is not statistically significant. Conclusion: Findings emphasize the need for further research on substance use and its disruption of transmission.

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