Daniel Habib


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Nonsuicidal Self-Injury and Substance Use Disorders: A Shared Language of Addiction
Salvatore Giorgi | Mckenzie Himelein-wachowiak | Daniel Habib | Lyle Ungar | Brenda Curtis
Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Computational Linguistics and Clinical Psychology

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), or the deliberate injuring of one?s body without intending to die, has been shown to exhibit many similarities to substance use disorders (SUDs), including population-level characteristics, impulsivity traits, and comorbidity with other mental disorders. Research has further shown that people who self-injure adopt language common in SUD recovery communities (e.g., “clean”, “relapse”, “addiction,” and celebratory language about sobriety milestones). In this study, we investigate the shared language of NSSI and SUD by comparing discussions on public Reddit forums related to self-injury and drug addiction. To this end, we build a set of LDA topics across both NSSI and SUD Reddit users and show that shared language across the two domains includes SUD recovery language in addition to other themes common to support forums (e.g., requests for help and gratitude). Next, we examine Reddit-wide posting activity and note that users posting in r/selfharm also post in many mental health-related subreddits, while users of drug addiction related subreddits do not, despite high comorbidity between NSSI and SUDs. These results show that while people who self-injure may contextualize their disorder as an addiction, their posting habits demonstrate comorbidities with other mental disorders more so than their counterparts in recovery from SUDs. These observations have clinical implications for people who self-injure and seek support by sharing their experiences online.