Title

The role of executive functioning deficits in the association between substance-use-related stigma and substance use problems among trauma-exposed individuals

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

1-1-2021

Abstract

Background: Previous research has linked the internalization of shame and negative stereotypes associated with substance use to increased severity of substance use problems (i.e., negative consequences associated with alcohol and drug use, including occupational or relational difficulties and illegal behavior). However, little work has examined how other aspects of substance-use-related stigma (e.g., encounters with and anticipation of discrimination) might be related to the severity of substance use problems. Further, the psychological mechanisms through which stigma drives substance use problems remain poorly understood. Addressing these key limitations, the current study examined the role of executive functioning (EF) deficits in the relation between substance-use-related stigma and severity of substance use problems. Methods: In fall 2019, adults exposed to trauma who use substances were recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (N = 320, 46.9% women) and completed self-report measures of substance-use-related stigma, EF deficits, and substance use problems. Results: Substance-use-related stigma was positively associated with EF deficits, which in turn related to substance use problems. Substance-use-related stigma was also indirectly associated with substance use problems through EF deficits, suggesting that EF deficits accounted for the significant association between substance-use-related stigma and substance use problems. Conclusions: These findings provide initial support for the role of EF deficits as a mechanism through which stigma drives substance use problems among individuals exposed to trauma. Results underscore the potential utility of addressing stigma coping and EF deficits in interventions aimed at preventing and treating substance use disorders.

Publication Title

Substance Abuse

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