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The link between childhood trauma and dissociation in frequent users of classic psychedelics and dissociatives

Thal, S.B., Daniels, J.K. and Jungaberle, H. (2019) The link between childhood trauma and dissociation in frequent users of classic psychedelics and dissociatives. Journal of Substance Use, 24 (5). pp. 524-531.

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Background: Childhood trauma severity is associated with the level of subsequent substance use as well as with the self-reported severity of dissociation. Classic psychedelics and dissociatives target neurotransmitter systems thought to be involved in the onset of dissociative symptoms and may evoke severe and long-lasting symptoms of depersonalization in some users. However, it is currently unclear whether drug use puts people with a history of childhood trauma at higher risk of developing dissociative symptoms.

Objectives: The current study investigates whether the one-year prevalence of substance use significantly moderates the link between childhood trauma and the severity of depersonalization.

Methods: Participants (n = 297, of which 80.2% were active users) filled out an online self-report questionnaire including the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), the Cambridge Depersonalisation Scale (CDS), and information about their substance use.

Results: Results indicate that childhood trauma and substance use are significant individual predictors of dissociation scores in this sample, but no moderation of substance use on the link between childhood trauma and depersonalization was established.

Conclusions: It is hypothesized that the quality (particularly the context) of the experience of substance use rather than the sheer quantity may be responsible for the manifestation of depersonalization.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: © 2019 The Authors.
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