"This is the result of something else": Experiences of men that abused drugs and had experienced childhood trauma

Margret Torshamar Georgsdottir, Sigrún Sigurðardóttir, Hrafnhildur Gunnthorsdottir

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    Drug abuse is a serious public health issue that may have irreversible consequences. Research has revealed that childhood psychological trauma can promote addictive behaviors in adulthood and that drugs are often used as a coping mechanism. Men are less likely to report trauma and seek help than women. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experience of men in Iceland who have abused drugs and experienced childhood psychological trauma, to increase knowledge and deepen the understanding of trauma and addiction. Participants were seven men who had both experienced childhood trauma and had a history of drug abuse. Two interviews were conducted with each participant. The main findings suggest that participants abused drugs as a coping mechanism due to the trauma experienced in childhood. For some participants, seeking companionship was a key component of their drug use. Participants were mostly dissatisfied with treatment resources in Iceland; waiting lists were long and too much focus was on religion. Five main themes were identified: emotional impact, self-medication for pain, gender expectations, impermanence of thoughts, and loss of a sense of wholeness. Increased societal and professional awareness of the linkage between trauma and drug abuse is needed, as are additional resources specific to men who have experienced childhood trauma and drug abuse. It is important to integrate trauma focused services into health-care settings to educate health-care professionals on trauma and the consequences thereof, in addition to utilizing screening tools such as the Adverse Childhood Experience Questionnaire for those seeking assistance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalAmerican Journal of Men's Health
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

    Other keywords

    • Drug abuse
    • childhood psychological trauma
    • coping mechanism
    • trauma focused service

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