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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changes in acute substance use patterns following traumatic event exposure in a marginalized population : an exploratory study Harvey, Sara


The current study addressed the acute relationship between substance use and traumatic events in a marginalized population where substance dependence is ubiquitous, and trauma is an assumed part of life. A sample of participants living in Single Room Occupancy hotels on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside were included (n = 274). A repeated measures analysis of variance was used to compare the number of days using substances from a month with a recorded traumatic event to the month following with no traumatic event. Substance classes were separated and analyzed separately (methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids, cannabis, and alcohol). The number of days used in the month prior to the trauma was utilized as a controlling covariate. Analyses revealed that, in the month following a traumatic event, there was an increase in number of days using methamphetamines (p = 0.002). In addition, a decrease in the number of days using alcohol was found in the month after a traumatic event (p < 0.001). The results have implications for harm-reduction strategies and addiction treatment for counsellors working with individuals residing on the Downtown Eastside. As this area of the trauma-substance use relationship has never been investigated, the findings offer new lines of opportunities for future research.

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