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Ingebjørg Aspeland Lien and Espen Ajo Arnevik

Abstract

AIM – Several studies have shown that personality disorders (PDs) are frequently occurring among patients with substance use disorders (SUDs). A development from research of co-occurrence estimates in this patient group investigates personality problems as dimensional constructs, which seek to capture the core of personality pathology. The aim of our study was to explore whether personality problems might be assessed among SUD patients in early stages of treatment. We also sought to investigate personality problem severity among Norwegian adult SUD patients.

DESIGN – Personality problems were assessed using the self-report questionnaire Severity Indices of Personality Problems (SIPP-118). The study sample consisted of 155 SUD patients currently in treatment at detoxification sections at Oslo University Hospital.

RESULTS – Though psychometric evaluation of the SIPP-118, we found that personality problems could be assessed with high levels of internal consistency and convergent validity in SUD patients during detoxification. This is an important contribution to the discussion concerning time and context of personality pathology assessment in the SUD treatment field. The results indicated that SUD patients have personality problems at a level of severity comparable to previously investigated PD patient samples, and significantly more severe than personality problems found in normal population samples. This indicates that personality problems are a common, as well as a detrimental, feature among SUD patients, which further points towards considering these in all aspects of SUD treatment.

CONCLUSIONS – Assessing personality problems early in treatment may enable a more integrated approach to SUD treatment targeting personality problems and substance-related problems.