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Childhood Maltreatment, Alcohol Use Disorders, and Treatment Utilization in a National Sample of Emerging Adults

Abby L. Goldstein, Christine A. Henriksen, Danielle M. Davidov, Melissa Kimber, Nicole Y. Pitre, Tracie O. Afifi

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between childhood maltreatment and alcohol use disorders (AUDs), treatment utilization, and barriers to treatment in a national sample of emerging adults. Multiple types of maltreatment were examined, including childhood emotional abuse and neglect. Method: The analyses are based on data from 18- to 25-year-olds (N = 4,468) who participated in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Results: Adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, we found that childhood maltreatment was associated with a greater likelihood of an AUD and a greater likelihood of accessing treatment, although these relationships were no longer significant once psychiatric comorbidities and other substance use disorders were included as control variables. We also found significant interaction effects for age; differences in the prevalence of AUDs among those who experienced physical abuse and multiple types of maltreatment were larger for the older age group. Finally, among those with AUDs, maltreatment was associated with specific perceived barriers to treatment. Conclusions: The current findings highlight childhood maltreatment, including emotional abuse and neglect, as important correlates of AUDs among emerging adults but indicate that these relationships may be accounted for by other psychiatric comorbidities. Barriers to treatment among individuals with AUDs may reflect maltreatment experiences and should be addressed in both policy and practice. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 185194, 2013)