Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 544–553 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Emotion Dysregulation and Deliberate Self-Harm Among Inpatients with Substance Use Disorders

  • Kim L. Gratz
  • Matthew T. Tull
Original Article


Despite the emphasis on the role of emotion dysregulation in deliberate self-harm (DSH), no studies have examined this association among patients with substance use disorders (SUD). This study examined if emotion dysregulation is heightened among SUD inpatients with (vs. without) DSH, and if the association between DSH and emotion dysregulation remains significant when controlling for their shared association with risk factors for both, including borderline personality disorder (BPD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), childhood abuse, and substance use severity. Findings indicate heightened emotion dysregulation among SUD patients with (vs. without) DSH, and provide evidence of a unique association between emotion dysregulation and DSH when controlling for BPD, PTSD, childhood abuse, and substance use severity. Findings also highlight the particular relevance of three dimensions of emotion dysregulation to DSH among SUD patients: limited access to effective emotion regulation strategies, difficulties engaging in goal-directed behaviors when distressed, and emotional nonacceptance.


Deliberate self-harm Self-injury Emotion regulation Emotional responding Substance use 



This research was supported by R03 DA023001 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, awarded to the second author.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorUniversity of Mississippi Medical CenterJacksonUSA

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