Aggression, impulsivity, personality traits, and childhood trauma of prisoners with substance abuse and addiction

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2008;34(3):339-45. doi: 10.1080/00952990802010884.


Introduction: The aim of our study is then to analyze psychological and judicial features of a subgroup of inmates with substance abuse.

Methods: Prisoners with substance abuse (n = 312) were compared to prisoners without substance abuse (n = 591). Recruited inmates completed a semistructured interview for collection of sociodemographic and judicial data and a battery of psychometric tests for assessement of aggression, impulsivity, depression, personality traits, hostility, resilience, and childhood trauma.

Results: Substance abusers had on average multiple incarcerations (78.8%), more juvenile convictions (60.2%), more violent behaviors during detention (29.8%), and a history of one or more suicide attempts (20.8%). They also had higher scores on subscales for childhood trauma, higher scores for psychoticism and neuroticism, higher impulsivity levels, worse resilience, increased hostility, and prevalent suicidal ideation.

Conclusion: Prisoners with substance abuse constitute a subgroup with increased judiciary and psychiatric issues, possibly due to early life history and psychological characteristics, such as high impulsivity and aggressiveness, poor resilience, and higher suicidal risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Data Collection
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / epidemiology
  • Impulsive Behavior / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / complications
  • Neurotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data