Aggression, impulsivity, personality traits, and childhood trauma of prisoners with substance abuse and addiction

Chiara Cuomo, Marco Sarchiapone, Massimo Di Giannantonio, Michele Mancini, Alec Roy
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2008, 34 (3): 339-45

INTRODUCTION: The aim of our study is then to analyze psychological and judicial features of a subgroup of inmates with substance abuse.

METHODS: Prisoners with substance abuse (n = 312) were compared to prisoners without substance abuse (n = 591). Recruited inmates completed a semistructured interview for collection of sociodemographic and judicial data and a battery of psychometric tests for assessement of aggression, impulsivity, depression, personality traits, hostility, resilience, and childhood trauma.

RESULTS: Substance abusers had on average multiple incarcerations (78.8%), more juvenile convictions (60.2%), more violent behaviors during detention (29.8%), and a history of one or more suicide attempts (20.8%). They also had higher scores on subscales for childhood trauma, higher scores for psychoticism and neuroticism, higher impulsivity levels, worse resilience, increased hostility, and prevalent suicidal ideation.

CONCLUSION: Prisoners with substance abuse constitute a subgroup with increased judiciary and psychiatric issues, possibly due to early life history and psychological characteristics, such as high impulsivity and aggressiveness, poor resilience, and higher suicidal risk.

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