The impact of cartel related violence on ongoing traumatic stress and self-medication in young adults living along the U.S./Mexico border

Thomas J Taylor, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Ongoing Potentially Traumatic Stress (OPTS) as a result of violence and insecurity along the U.S./México border remains understudied. Many residents of the border may be both indirectly and directly exposed to potentially traumatic events on an ongoing basis, particularly in the city of Cd. Juárez, México. The present study examined the impact of the violence and insecurity on daily traumatic stress levels and the potential for self-medication via alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs within Spanish speaking young adult residents and commuters to Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México. Participants (N=121) completed multiple online reports of location in and travel to Cd. Juárez, degree of exposure to potentially traumatic events in terms of objective exposure and subjective exposure (degree of daily fear, helplessness, and horror experienced), as well as daily traumatic stress symptoms, prior lifetime exposure to trauma, mood and anxiety symptomology, overall stress, general coping strategies, and access to social support. Daily self-medication perceptions and daily reports of alcohol, cigarette, and illicit drug use were also assessed. Results suggest participants had an extensive degree of prior exposure to trauma in the community. Ongoing traumatic stress (OTS) scores were associated with subjective experiences of fear, helplessness, and horror, as well as past 30 day PTSD symptoms attributed to the ongoing violence and insecurity. Common risk factors and buffers to traumatic stress were all unrelated to daily traumatic stress levels in multivariate models. Participants also evidenced a pattern of perceived self-medication of traumatic stress, though actual substance use reported by participants was unassociated with traumatic stress levels. OTS likely represents a distinct form of traumatic stress affecting many in locations experiencing ongoing conflict and insecurity—particularly those affected by the ongoing cartel and army related violence in Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México. ^

Subject Area

Statistics|Latin American Studies|Psychology, Clinical|Health Sciences, Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Taylor, Thomas J, "The impact of cartel related violence on ongoing traumatic stress and self-medication in young adults living along the U.S./Mexico border" (2010). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3433550.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI3433550

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