The interplay between trauma, substance abuse and appetitive aggression and its relation to criminal activity among high-risk males in South Africa

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2017
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Holtzhausen, Leon
Kaminer, Debra
Seedat, Soraya
Madikane, Solomon
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European Union (EU): 323977
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Memo TV - Epigenetic, neural and cognitive memories of traumatic stress and violence
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Addictive Behaviors. 2017, 64, pp. 29-34. ISSN 0306-4603. eISSN 1873-6327. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.08.008
Zusammenfassung

Background

In persistently unsafe environments, the cumulative exposure to violence predicts not only the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but also of increased aggression and violent outbursts. Substance use disorders interact with these developments, as drug consumption may blunt symptoms and also reduce the threshold for violent acts. Investigating the interplay between these variables and the possible cumulative effect of drug abuse on the attraction to cruelty is a crucial step in understanding the cycle of violence and developing intervention programs that address this cycle in violence-troubled communities such as low-income urban areas in South Africa.

Methods

Young males at risk (N = 290) were recruited through a reintegration center for offenders in Cape Town. We assessed types of traumatic events experienced, PTSD symptom severity, appetitive aggression, committed offenses and patterns of drug abuse prior to the perpetration of violence.

Results

Path-analyses confirmed a positive relationship between exposure to traumatic events and PTSD symptom severity, appetitive aggression, the number of committed offenses and drug abuse prior to violence. PTSD symptoms were positively associated with the propensity toward aggression. Furthermore, more severe drug abuse was related to higher attraction to violence and more committed offenses.

Conclusions

We conclude that like exposure to violence, drug abuse may play a key role in the attraction to aggression and criminal acts. Measures of violence prevention and psychotherapeutic interventions for trauma-related suffering may not be effective without enduring drug abuse rehabilitation.

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ISO 690SOMMER, Jessica, Martina HINSBERGER, Thomas ELBERT, Leon HOLTZHAUSEN, Debra KAMINER, Soraya SEEDAT, Solomon MADIKANE, Roland WEIERSTALL, 2017. The interplay between trauma, substance abuse and appetitive aggression and its relation to criminal activity among high-risk males in South Africa. In: Addictive Behaviors. 2017, 64, pp. 29-34. ISSN 0306-4603. eISSN 1873-6327. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.08.008
BibTex
@article{Sommer2017-01inter-37483,
  year={2017},
  doi={10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.08.008},
  title={The interplay between trauma, substance abuse and appetitive aggression and its relation to criminal activity among high-risk males in South Africa},
  volume={64},
  issn={0306-4603},
  journal={Addictive Behaviors},
  pages={29--34},
  author={Sommer, Jessica and Hinsberger, Martina and Elbert, Thomas and Holtzhausen, Leon and Kaminer, Debra and Seedat, Soraya and Madikane, Solomon and Weierstall, Roland}
}
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