Substance use and post-traumatic stress in victims of trauma: the role of interoceptive body awareness

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Madison Paige Surrett (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Kia Asberg

Abstract: The experience of trauma (e.g., interpersonal violence, sexual assault) is associated with a range of adverse outcomes, including an increased risk for misusing substances (Ullman et al., 2013), often in an attempt to cope (Asberg & Renk, 2012; Hogarth et al., 2019). However, the association between trauma symptoms and substance use consequences might be explained by other processes that could be targeted for intervention. For example, paying attention to inner body sensations (interoceptive body awareness; IBA) predicts lower Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms (Reinhardt et al., 2020), but IBA has not been examined in relation to adverse substance use consequences. Thus, the present study examined associations among trauma symptoms, IBA, and substance use consequences. Specifically, we hypothesized that higher levels of trauma symptoms would correspond with less IBA and, in turn, more frequent adverse consequences of substance use. Moreover, we examined the assertion that interoceptive body awareness would mediate the association between trauma symptoms and problematic substance use. Participants (N = 271) age 18-years or older were recruited from various online sources (Reddit, Facebook) and a university research participant pool (SONA). Results suggest that trauma symptom severity was associated with less interoception and more substance use consequences, while interoceptive awareness was inversely associated with substance use consequences. However, interoceptive awareness was not a significant mediator for this relationship once the effect of trauma symptoms was accounted for. This is the first study to examine IBA as a correlate of substance use consequences to the best of our knowledge. Although IBA failed to mediate the effects of trauma symptoms on substance use outcomes in this convenience sample, future studies may examine the role of body awareness on substance among survivors of interpersonal violence, specifically. Findings highlight the importance of understanding trauma correlations (i.e., body awareness and substance misuse) and may inform treatment modalities for individuals at risk of substance misuse.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
clinical psychology, interoception, interoceptive awareness, psychology, substance use, trauma
Clinical psychology
Substance abuse
Psychological Trauma
Post-traumatic stress disorder

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