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In an effort to self-medicate psychological distress stemming from exposure to traumatic life events, at-risk youth may be likely to seek intoxication via substance use. Concomitantly, self-medication with psychoactive substances is theorized to confer risk of developing future psychiatric and substance use disorders. The present study employed structural equation modeling to examine self-medication among a sample of 723 youth in residential treatment for antisocial behavior via recursive and non-recursive relationships between trauma history, substance misuse, and psychological distress. Results supported study hypotheses that: (a) the effects of trauma history on psychological distress are partially mediated by substance misuse, and (b) exposure to traumatic life events drives a feedback loop between substance misuse and psychological distress. Findings from this large-scale survey of adolescents exhibiting behavioral dysfunction suggest that identification of self-medication processes among traumatized youth may be crucial for developing targeted prevention and treatment initiatives.
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- Self-medication among traumatized youth: structural equation modeling of pathways between trauma history, substance misuse, and psychological distress
Eric L. Garland
Matthew O. Howard
- Springer US