Difficulties Regulating Positive Emotions and Substance Misuse: The Influence of Sociodemographic Factors

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Background: Alcohol and drug misuse present significant public health concerns due to their high prevalence and deleterious outcomes. A growing body of research provides support for the role of difficulties regulating positive emotions in alcohol and drug misuse. However, research is needed to better understand for whom difficulties regulating positive emotions are most strongly associated with alcohol and drug misuse to inform assessment and treatment efforts. Objectives: The goal of the present study was to examine potential sociodemographic moderators (i.e. age, gender, ethnicity, race, income, and educational attainment) in the relations between difficulties regulating positive emotions and alcohol and drug misuse. Methods: Participants were 373 trauma-exposed adults (57.1% female, 75.8% White) recruited from the community. Results: Significant differences were identified across sociodemographic groups regarding difficulties regulating positive emotions (i.e. gender, ethnicity, race, and income) and alcohol use (i.e. gender). Moderation analyses revealed a significant interaction between difficulties regulating positive emotions and gender on drug misuse (b = 0.08, p <.001), such that the association was significant for females (b = 0.11, p <.001) but not males (b =.03, p =.05). Conclusions: Results suggest the importance of developing gender-sensitive recommendations for the assessment and treatment of substance misuse, and of incorporating techniques focused on addressing difficulties regulating positive emotions.

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Substance Use and Misuse