Impact of childhood abuse and neglect on substance abuse and psychological distress in adulthood



Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationship of childhood trauma, educational level, and the use of avoidant coping on substance abuse and psychological distress in a community sample of 285 women. Results indicated that self-reported childhood trauma was significantly related to greater substance abuse and psychological distress, through educational attainment and avoidant coping strategies. Lower level of education affected substance abuse through greater use of avoidant coping, but had no significant relationship with psychological distress. Greater use of avoidant coping was related to increased substance abuse and greater psychological distress. Findings indicate the need for supportive educational strategies and interventions to teach coping skills in preventing substance abuse and longer-term psychological distress in children exposed to trauma.