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Experiencing maltreatment during childhood increases the likelihood of lifetime alcohol dependence

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Question: What is the relationship between childhood maltreatment and adult lifetime alcohol dependency, and is there an influence of parental history?

Population: A total of 27 712 civilian, non-institutionalised adults (over the age of 18 years in 2001–2002) participating in Wave 1 (2001–2002) and Wave 2 (2004–2005) of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Eligible Wave 1 respondents were reinterviewed at Wave 2; individuals were deemed ineligible at Wave 2 if they were deceased, deported, mentally or physically impaired or on active duty throughout the follow-up period. Interviews were through face-to-face surveys.

Setting: USA; 2001–2005.

Risk factors: Childhood maltreatment (before the age of 18 years) at the hands of a parent or other adult in the individual's home, as assessed during Wave 2 interviews using the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule—DSM-IV Version (AUDADIS-IV). Five maltreatment subtypes were assessed: physical, emotional or sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect.

Outcomes: Lifetime alcohol dependence, as assessed at Waves 1 and 2 using …

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  • Sources of funding National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


  • Competing interests None.

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