The relationship between traumatic childhood experiences and proclivities towards substance abuse, self-esteem and coping strategies

Timur Toker, Ahmet Tiryaki, Gamze Özçürümez, Baykal Iskender
Türk Psikiyatri Dergisi, Turkish Journal of Psychiatry 2011, 22 (2): 83-92

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to compare people with substance use disorder with healthy controls in terms of childhood abuse, proclivity towards substance abuse, coping skills and self-esteem as well as the correlation between experiences of abuse in childhood and these variables.

METHOD: The study group included 41 subjects diagnosed with substance use disorder, who had been sentenced under the respective laws as a result of crimes relating to substance use and possession, and the control group. A sociodemographic Data Form, SCID-I, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, COPE, Substance Abuse Proclivity Scale and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale were applied to all participants.

RESULTS: Childhood trauma history was observed to be more common in the study group than in the control group. When the childhood trauma questionnaire was evaluated, the scores for physical abuse were found to be significantly higher in the study group. COPE subscale scores for mental disengagement, focusing on problems and expressing emotions, active coping, coping through religion and emotional social support usage were significantly lower in the study group. The study group's results on the Substance Abuse Proclivity Scale were found to be higher than those of the control group. On the Rosenberg Self Respect Scale, the study group's scores were higher while the control group was more likely to have high self respect.

CONCLUSION: People with substance use disorder are more likely to have a childhood history of physical abuse, higher proclivity towards substance abuse and lower self esteem. The level of abuse increases the level of emotion-based coping while decreasing levels of problem-based coping. There is support for the view that that traumatic childhood experiences are one of the psychosocial risk factors related to, although not specific to substance use.


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