Is self-mastery always a helpful resource? Coping with paradoxical findings in relation to optimism and abstinence self-efficacy

John M. Majer, Leonard A. Jason, Joseph R. Ferrari, Bradley D. Olson, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This study investigated the relationship between three personal resources (self-mastery, optimism, and abstinence self-efficacy) and ways of coping among recovering substance abusers (n = 52) residing in Oxford Houses. Although residents' scores on optimism and abstinence self-efficacy were significantly correlated in a positive direction, residents' self-mastery scores were significantly and negatively related to both optimism and abstinence self-efficacy scores. However, residents reported using significantly more emotion-focused than problem-focused coping even though there was a significant positive relationship between emotion-focused coping and self-mastery. These paradoxical findings might be due to communal living and 12-step philosophy that is antithetical to a sense of control, which may have facilitated residents' emotional regulation to stress. Furthermore, significant relationships between coping strategies and personal resources imply that active coping strategies are instrumental in recovering substance abusers' use of optimism and abstinence self-efficacy, whereas passive coping strategies are involved with self-mastery. In addition, African American residents reported using significantly more wishful thinking coping, suggesting ethnicity might be an important aspect of the coping process. Overall, findings suggest that optimism and abstinence self-efficacy are effective personal resources for recovering substance abusers in 12-step programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Abstinence self-efficacy
  • Coping
  • Optimism
  • Oxford House
  • Self-mastery
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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