Trauma Exposure and Retention in Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

Published in: Journal of Traumatic Stress, v. 17, no. 2, Apr. 2004, p. 113-121

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2003

by Lisa H. Jaycox, Patricia A. Ebener, Leslie Damesek, Kirsten Becker

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Trauma exposure and related symptoms interfere with adult adherence to drug treatment. Whether these findings hold true for adolescents is unknown. The authors examined trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms, and psychosocial functioning among 212 adolescents upon admission to long-term residential drug treatment and examined retention in treatment at 6 months. Seventy-one percent reported lifetime trauma exposure, and 29% of the trauma-exposed met criteria for current PTSD. Trauma-exposed adolescents reported more behavioral problems, with gender differences apparent. The authors divided the sample into three groups: no trauma exposure (21%), trauma-exposed without PTSD (59%), and trauma-exposed with PTSD (20%). Survival analysis showed that trauma-exposed adolescents without PTSD left treatment sooner than the nonexposed. Need for attention to trauma in substance abuse treatment programs is discussed.

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