Childhood trauma and subsequent substance abuse: Correlation and possible insulating factors



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Texas Tech University


The substantial economic, health and social costs of substance abuse have demanded that national mental health and research efforts address this pervasive problem. Much research has focused on prevention and etiology, with an emphasis on vulnerability to substance abuse as a primary concern.

Studies of vulnerability to substance abuse are primarily directed toward identifying individuals at risk for developing abuse patterns based on genetic and familial-psychological factors. In particular, many studies have investigated the subject's family history of substance abuse, affectivity, and arousal as risk factors in later addiction. These studies are not conclusive, and results suggest that other unidentified environmental variables must affect on the likelihood of substance abuse occurring. Additionally, much research suggests that insulating factors may significantly preserve an individual's mental health, regardless of childhood experiences. The results of these research efforts suggest that not only might childhood trauma increase "at risk" behavior, but that other environmental factors, such as insulating experiences, might reduce the patterns of addictive behaviors. Nevertheless, little attention has been focused on determining stressors which precede the development of substance abuse.



Substance abuse, Attribution in children, Psychic trauma, Behavioral assessment of children