Gender differences in the prevalence of symptom disorders and personality disorders among poly-substance abusers and pure alcoholics. Substance abusers treated in two counties in Norway

A S Landheim, K Bakken, P Vaglum
European Addiction Research 2003, 9 (1): 8-17

OBJECTIVE: Gender differences in the prevalence of Axis I and II disorders in poly-substance abusers and pure alcoholics and between these two groups are explored.

METHOD: A consecutive sample (n = 260) of in- and out-patients from two Norwegian counties were assessed by CIDI (Axis I disorders) and MCMI-II (Axis II disorders).

RESULTS: Major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders were significantly more prevalent in women than in men. A significantly higher prevalence of antisocial, passive-aggressive, and borderline personality disorders (PD) was observed among poly-substance abusers, whereas pure alcoholics were found to have dependent PDs more often. Female poly-substance abusers differed significantly from all other substance abusers by suffering more often from major depression, simple phobia, PTSD and borderline PD. Male poly-substance abusers more often presented antisocial PD and less often Cluster C disorders than all other substance abusers. Female pure alcoholics more often had major depression and Cluster C disorders than all other substance abusers. Male pure alcoholics presented less often with Axis I disorders, major depression, and PTSD, but more often with Cluster A disorders, in particular schizoid PD, than all other substance abusers.

CONCLUSION: The pattern of comorbid disorders is clearly different between male and female poly-substance abusers and pure alcoholics. This implies that these four subgroups have important differences in their treatment needs.

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