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Keywords:

  • childhood trauma;
  • comorbidity;
  • dissociative disorder;
  • drug dependence;
  • gender

Aim:  The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence and correlates of dissociative disorders among patients with drug dependency.

Methods:  The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) was used to screen 104 consecutive patients at an addiction treatment center. Thirty-seven patients who had scores ≥30 were compared with 21 patients who scored <10 on the DES. Both groups were then evaluated using the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule and the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D). The interviewers were blind to the DES scores.

Results:  Twenty-seven patients (26.0%) had a dissociative disorder according to the SCID-D. Dissociative patients were younger than the non-dissociative group. History of suicide attempt and/or childhood emotional abuse was significant predictors of a dissociative disorder. The majority (59.3%) of dissociative drug users reported that dissociative experiences had existed prior to substance use. More patients in the dissociative disorder than in the non-dissociative group stopped their treatment prematurely.

Conclusion:  A considerable proportion of drug users have a dissociative disorder, which may also interfere with treatment process. The relatively young age of this subgroup of patients and frequent reports of childhood emotional abuse underline potential preventive benefits of early intervention among adolescents with developmental trauma history and dissociative psychopathology.