Dissociative phenomena among recovering heroin users and their relationship to duration of abstinence

Eli Somer, Ronit Avni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study is an investigation of trauma and dissociation in 100 Israeli recovering patients with drug use disorder. The respondents showed more emotional, physical and sexual traumatization than an Israeli clinical sample, and their levels of dissociation were similar to those previously measured in Israeli patients diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder (Somer, Dolgin, & Saadon, 2001). Male respondents with higher trauma scores were more likely to report dissociative experiences during their drug use (chemical dissociation). Drug-free high-dissociators were more likely to report depersonalizing and derealizing experiences when they had been using drugs. Stronger dissociative experiences during drug-use related to more psychological distress during inter-use craving. A relationship between psychological distress during inter-use craving and psychological dissociation measured in a detoxified state was also established. Length of abstinence from illicit substances was best predicted by lower levels of psychogenic dissociation and by longer durations of psychosocial treatment. While findings imply that tenacity in treatment could be a sustaining process associated with abstinence from drug use, they also suggest that without a thorough resolution of trauma-related dissociation, successful treatment outcome is less likely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-38
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003


  • Dissociation
  • Heroin
  • Israel
  • Substance abuse
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Rehabilitation


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