Trauma-related shame predicts daily non-medical prescription opioid use among individuals with PTSD symptoms

Tanya C. Saraiya, Alyssa C. Jones, Teresa Lopez-Castro, Caitlyn O. Hood, Jessica Flores, Christal L. Badour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-medical prescription opioid use (NMPOU) is the use of opioids without a prescription or in a way different from how they were prescribed and is the fourth most common type of drug use in the United States. Separate research has shown that trauma-related shame is linked to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, respectively, opioid use. However, no study to date has empirically examined the association between trauma-related shame and NMPOU among individuals with PTSD symptoms. Forty adults with clinical or subclinical PTSD who reported engaging in NMPOU at least one day in the prior month before the study completed 28 days of daily surveys. Trauma-related shame was measured at baseline. NMPOU and underlying motives to engage in NMPOU were assessed once daily via a smartphone app. Twenty-four participants (60 %) reported NMPOU over the 28-day period. After controlling for PTSD symptoms and covariates, mixed models showed that higher trauma-related shame significantly predicted higher risk of daily NMPOU (B = 0.06, SE = 0.03, t = 2.14, p=.03). After controlling for false discovery rates, trauma-related shame also significantly predicted NMPOU due to the following motives (p's < 0.031): to manage depression/sadness, to manage anxiety, to manage other stress/worry, and to get high. Among individuals with PTSD, higher baseline trauma-related shame prospectively and positively predicted greater NMPOU over a four-week daily monitoring period. Findings suggest a need to attend to trauma-related shame and its impact on subsequent motivations to engage in NMPOU. Future research should examine how treatments may effectively target trauma-related shame to reduce NMPOU and more severe PTSD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-176
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd


  • Opioid use
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Prescription opioids
  • Shame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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