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Substances and your senses: The sensory patterns of young people within an alcohol and drug treatment service
journal contributionposted on 2022-02-09, 04:09 authored by John Kelly, Pamela Meredith, Michelle Taylor, Amanda Morphett, Hollie Wilson
Background: Substance use disorders (SUD) and trauma histories in adults have been linked with sensory processing patterns that are significantly different from the general population. Nevertheless, no studies have investigated sensory patterns, or the variables with which they are related, in youth with SUD. This study aimed to compare sensory patterns of this sample with normative data and consider associations between sensory patterns and: substance use, trauma, quality-of-life, mental and physical health. Methods: A cross-sectional quantitative research design was employed with a sample of 87 young people (mean age = 20.8 years) with SUD voluntarily attending a specialist youth outpatient alcohol and other drug (AOD) service. For participants, the Adolescent Adult Sensory Profile was added to measures routinely collected at the service. Results: Participants’ sensory processing patterns for low registration, sensory sensitivity, and sensation avoiding were significantly higher than the normative population, while sensation seeking was both lower and higher. Ninety-one percent reported atypical scores on one or more sensory patterns. High rates of probable Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD), psychological distress, and low quality-of-life were also reported, which were meaningfully related with sensory patterns. Conclusion: Young people reported complex combinations of sensory processing patterns, with comorbid probable PTSD, psychological distress, and low quality-of-life. Findings reflect studies with adult AOD, trauma, and other clinical conditions, and highlight the potential value of screening for sensory patterns and applying transdiagnostic approaches which simultaneously address substance use, mental health, trauma and sensory needs to optimize outcomes for young people with SUD.
Number of Pages9
PublisherTaylor & Francis
External Author AffiliationsMetro North Mental Health – Alcohol and Drug Service, Qld