Substance use and violent behavior in women with antisocial personality disorder

Behav Sci Law. 2011 Sep-Oct;29(5):667-76. doi: 10.1002/bsl.1006.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between substance abuse and dependence and violent behavior in a sample of incarcerated women with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Among male populations, substance dependence is associated with aggression and criminal behavior. Individuals with ASPD have more severe substance dependence, including higher symptom counts, earlier age of onset, and more frequent co-morbidity. Incarcerated women have a high prevalence of ASPD and substance dependence, but there has been little detailed work regarding addiction severity. Similarly, work on association of substance abuse and dependence with specific violent behaviors has been limited. This study examined a group of 41 mid-sentence female felons with a diagnosis of ASPD to determine associations with substance abuse and dependence. Data were gathered through administration of the Semi-Structured Assessment of the Genetics of Alcoholism II (SSAGA II). Substance dependence was highly prevalent (i.e., alcohol dependence, 56.1%; opiate dependence, 48.8%; cocaine dependence, 61.0%). While specific diagnoses were not associated with violent behavior and offending, symptom severity (i.e., age of onset, symptom count, co-morbidity) was associated with violent behavior in women dependent on opiates, alcohol, and cocaine. Arrest for an assault 1 was associated with alcohol dependence and opiate dependence. These data suggest that measurement of symptom severity and co-morbidity is important in assessing violent behavior in incarcerated women with ASPD. These findings are potentially important in examining non-incarcerated, substance-dependent women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Violence / psychology*