Substance abuse and criminal activities following traumatic brain injury in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood

Audrey McKinlay, John D Corrigan, L John Horwood, David M Fergusson

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90 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Use a longitudinal birth cohort to evaluate the association of traumatic brain injury at ages 0 to 5, 6 to 15, and 16 to 21 years with drug and alcohol abuse and engagement in criminal activities. Main Measures: Follow-up over 21 to 25 years using self-report of drug and alcohol use, arrests, and violent and property offenses. Outcomes were assessed for 2 levels of severity (inpatient, hospitalized; outpatient, seen by general practitioner or at emergency department). Participants: Members of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a longitudinal birth cohort. Setting: Christchurch, New Zealand. Results: Adjusted for child and family factors, compared with noninjured individuals, inpatients injured at 0 to 5 years or 16 to 21 years were more likely to have symptoms consistent with drug dependence. All inpatient groups had increased risk of arrest, with the age groups of 0 to 5 and 6 to 15 years more likely to be involved in violent offenses and the age group of 0 to 5 years more likely to engage in property offenses. Outpatient group had an increased risk of violent offenses for first injury 0 to 5 years, arrests and property offenses for injury 6 to 15 years, and increased risk of arrests and violent offenses for injury 16 to 21 years of age. However, when alcohol dependence and drug dependence were added as an additional covariate, traumatic brain injury was no longer associated with criminal behavior for the age group of 0 to 5 years. Conclusions: Traumatic brain injury is associated with increased criminal behavior and may represent a risk factor for offending. However, early substance use is a mediating factor for those injured early in life
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498 - 506
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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