OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the adult
psychiatric correlates of childhood abuse among alcoholic inpatients.
METHODS: The 802 patients, who included 321 women, were admitted to one of
five New York State alcohol treatment inpatient centers. Each patient was
interviewed, and sexual and physical abuse history, DSM-III diagnosis, and
other characteristics were recorded. RESULTS: The overall prevalence of
reported childhood abuse was 59% for women and 30% for men. Family history
of alcoholism was associated with higher levels of physical and sexual
abuse. Gender differences in types of childhood abuse (i.e., sexual abuse
only, physical abuse only, dual abuse) were evident; 49% of the women and
12% of the men reported sexual abuse (with or without physical abuse), 33%
of the women and 24% of the men reported physical abuse (with or without
sexual abuse), and 23% of the women and 5% of the men reported dual abuse.
Abuse status, and especially dual abuse, was associated with higher rates
of antisocial personality disorder and suicide attempts among women and
men, with generalized anxiety disorder among women, and with major
depression among men. CONCLUSIONS: The findings highlight the long-term
associations between sexual and physical abuse and adult coexisting mental
disorders among alcoholic inpatients. Addressing unresolved intrapsychic
trauma associated with childhood abuse may increase the efficacy of
treatment outcomes and reduce relapse rates among alcoholics.