Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Ali, Saba Rasheed

Second Advisor

Arndt, Stephan

First Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart

Second Committee Member

Bermingham, Charles

Third Committee Member

Liu, William M


Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a serious public health concern contributing to health risks for individuals and communities. Recovery capital are client strengths associated with SUD recovery. Employment represents recovery capital associated with positive SUD treatment outcomes. However, the relationship between employment mechanisms and SUDs are not well understood. The present study investigates how specific employment variables at SUD treatment intake predict (a) successful treatment completion, (b) abstinence at six-month treatment follow-up, (c) reduced use at six-month treatment follow-up. Additionally, employment variable change is explored. A retrospective, cross-sectional investigation with logistic regression modeling to predict substance use at six-months post SUD treatment follow-up was used. Clients in the study period (1999-2016, N = 8,925) were a mean age of 31.7 (SD=11.8), mostly male (67.2%), and primarily White (86.6%). Results demonstrated that employment variables at intake predicted greater successful treatment completion, Wald χ2[36]=185.3, p<0.0001. However, greater employment strengths were predictive of maintained use at six-month follow-up rather than abstinence or reduced use. Further investigation showed, the best predictors of post-treatment recovery were months employed change (AOR=1.53, 95% CI=1.34-1.75) and days missed from work change (AOR=2.43, 95% CI=2.00-2.96). Counseling psychologists can help to improve substance use outcomes and the quality of life for those in SUD treatment by becoming involved in intervention design, consultation, and policy making that focuses on increasing employment length and reducing absenteeism due to substance use. Employment is one route to engagement that can help to improve the lives for those involved.


abstinence, harm reduction, recovery capital, vocational psychology


vi, 35 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 30-35).


Copyright © 2019 Ethan Sahker