Childhood victimization and illicit drug use in middle adulthood

Cathy Spatz Widom, Naomi R Marmorstein, Helene Raskin White
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 2006, 20 (4): 394-403
Using a prospective cohort design, the authors examined in this study whether childhood victimization increases the risk for illicit drug use and related problems in middle adulthood. Court-documented cases of childhood physical and sexual abuse and neglect and matched controls (N = 892) were first assessed as young adults (mean age = 29 years) during 1989-1995 and again in middle adulthood (mean age = 40 years) during 2000-2002. In middle adulthood, abused and neglected individuals were about 1.5 times more likely than controls to report using any illicit drug (in particular, marijuana) during the past year and reported use of a greater number of illicit drugs and more substance-use-related problems compared with controls. The current results reveal the long-term impact of childhood victimization on drug use in middle adulthood. These new results reinforce the need for targeted interventions with abused and neglected children, adolescents, and adults, and particularly for women.

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