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Does Typography of Substance Abuse and Dependence Differ as a Function of Exposure to Child Maltreatment?

NCJ Number
Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse Volume: 18 Issue: 4 Dated: 2009 Pages: 323-342
Date Published
October 2009
20 pages

This study investigated the link between child maltreatment, including child sexual assault (CSA), and child physical assault (CPA), and addiction-related symptomatology.


Findings support a close-response relationship between exposure to maltreatment and substance use disorder (SUD) symptoms, suggesting that the typology of SUD symptoms appear to be related to cumulative exposure to maltreatment. As predicted, substance-abuse symptoms and alcohol- and drug-dependence symptoms were most severe among adolescents who experienced both CSA and CPA. Noteworthy was that assault history was generally more associated with symptoms of drug-dependence as opposed to alcohol-dependence, suggesting that adolescents who experience multiple forms of maltreatment are at greater risk for misuse of hard drugs, which may have more detrimental long-term consequences compared to alcohol. Two other results from the current study further support a close-response relationship and highlight the vulnerability of youths who have experienced multiple incidents or types of maltreatment: youths who experienced a series of assaults, as opposed to a single event, reported greater failure to fulfill role obligations, substance tolerance, substance withdrawal, and loss of control due to substance use; and youths who experienced both CSA and CPA were at least three times more likely to report lifetime post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over youth in any other group. Data were collected from 281 adolescents who participated in the National Survey of Adolescents, all of whom met DSM-IV criteria for substance abuse or dependence. Figures, table, and references

Date Published: October 1, 2009