Ballet 3

Childhood sexual abuse and the course of alcohol dependence (alcoholism) development

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has been associated with increased risk for alcohol dependence (AD), but the extent to which childhood sexual abuse history may impact transitions in the course of alcohol dependence development remains unclear.

The current study examined the role of childhood sexual abuse in initiation of alcohol use and rate of progression from first drink to alcohol dependence using a sample of 3536 female twins (mean age = 21.6 years). Psychiatric diagnoses and alcohol use histories were obtained via telephone interviews using an adaptation of the SSAGA. The contribution of childhood sexual abuse to alcohol outcomes independent of familial influences was estimated by using co-twin alcohol dependence status to adjust for familial liability to alcohol dependence.

Childhood sexual abuse was associated with

  • higher rates of both lifetime alcohol use and
  • alcohol dependence,
  • but childhood sexual abuse-associated risk for consumption of first alcoholic drink was evident only at ages 12 and 13.
  • Rate of transition from first alcohol use to alcohol dependence did not differ by childhood sexual abuse status.

Findings indicate that childhood sexual abuse and elevated risk for alcohol dependence may be linked via early age at first drink and that progression from first drink to AD follows a similar course among women with and without histories of childhood sexual abuse .

Research report; Carolyn E. Sartor, Michael T. Lynskey, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Vivia V. McCutcheon, Elliot C. Nelson, Mary Waldron and Andrew C. Heath. Childhood sexual abuse and the course of alcohol dependence development: Findings from a female twin sample Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Volume 89, Issues 2-3, 10 July 2007, Pages 139-144

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