BACKGROUND: close interpersonal relationships are highlighted as an important
dynamic risk factor for reoffending in women that may mediate the association
between their substance misuse and offending. However, research in this area is
scarce. Evidence for an association between close relationships and recidivism in
women was systematically reviewed. Findings were inconsistent and inconclusive,
but they suggested that relationship factors may be relevant to women's reoffending
when interacting with other complex problems. Research is needed that explores
these interaction effects and the underlying psychological processes involved.
Aims: to explore experiences of close relationships and the underlying psychological
processes impacting on women's substance misuse and offending, and explore adult
attachment style in relation to emergent themes.
METHOD: a qualitative study was conducted using a social constructivist version of
grounded theory. Seven women ex- offenders from community drug treatment
services were interviewed about their experiences of close relationships in relation to
their substance misuse and offending. Adult attachment style was measured with the
Relationship Styles Questionnaire.
RESULTS: a model was constructed of the complex interconnection between substance
misuse, offending, family disconnection, dysfunctional intimate partner relationships,
and loss of children, driven by unresolved trauma, insecure attachment and shame.
CONCLUSION: formulations and interventions should consider the potential role of
unresolved trauma, insecure attachment, and shame to substance misuse and
offending in women to adequately address dynamic risk factors for recidivism.