Associations Between Family History of Substance Use, Childhood Trauma, and Age of First Drug Use in Persons With Methamphetamine Dependence

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Abstract

Objectives:

The current study examined the association among family history of substance use problems, childhood maltreatment, and age of first drug use in a sample of men and women seeking treatment for methamphetamine dependence. Various forms of childhood maltreatment were considered as mediators of the association between family history of substance use problems and age of first drug use.

Methods:

Participants (N = 99, 40% women, mean age 33) who were under treatment for methamphetamine dependence completed a baseline interview that obtained demographic information, past substance use by participants, history of drug/alcohol problems in their family of origin, and age at first use of any drug (excluding alcohol and tobacco). The Early Trauma Inventory Self-Report-Short Form was used to assess child maltreatment experiences before the age of 18.

Results:

Family history of substance use problems and childhood physical (but not emotional or sexual) trauma significantly predicted age of first drug use. Further, childhood physical trauma mediated the association between family history of substance use problems and age of first drug use.

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that the experience of childhood physical abuse may be an important mechanism through which family history of substance use is associated with an earlier age of first drug use.

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