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The Relationship Between Distress Tolerance and Antisocial Personality Disorder Among Male Inner-City Treatment Seeking Substance Users

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2008.22.5.509

There is currently limited research on the potential mechanisms underlying the development of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). One such mechanism, distress tolerance (defined as an individual's behavioral persistence in the face of emotional distress) may underlie the development of ASPD and its associated behavioral difficulties. It was hypothesized that substance users with ASPD would evidence significantly lower levels of distress tolerance than substance users without ASPD. To test this relationship, we assessed 127 inner-city males receiving residential substance abuse treatment with two computerized laboratory measures of distress tolerance. The mean age of the sample was 40.1 years (SD = 9.8) and 88.2% were African American. As expected, multiple logistic regression analyses indicated that distress intolerance significantly predicted the presence of an ASPD diagnosis, above and beyond key covariates including substance use frequency and associated Axis I and II psychopathology. Findings suggest that distress tolerance may be a key factor in understanding the development of ASPD, setting the stage for future studies expanding on the nature of this relationship, as well as the development of appropriate interventions for this at-risk group.