Dysfunctional relationships are highlighted as a potential mediator between women's substance misuse and offending, but few studies have explored how. This qualitative study explored the role of interpersonal relationships to substance misuse and offending in women, and underlying psychological processes involved. Seven women offenders in community treatment for heroin dependence were interviewed. Data were analyzed using social constructivist grounded theory. A provisional model was constructed of the interconnection between family disconnection, dysfunctional intimate partner relationships, loss of children, and substance misuse and drug-related offending, within the context of complex trauma, insecure attachment, and shame. The potential significance of shame to women's substance misuse and offending has had little prior investigation. Interventions for women offenders with heroin addiction may need to consider all these relational psychological processes to adequately address recidivism risk.
- Female offenders
- posttraumatic stress disorder
- gender differences
- social support