Finally. Research Validates What I Knew Already About Childhood Trauma and Addiction.


A Guest Article By  …

Childhood abuse and chronic parental domestic violence
linked to later addiction.


“Adults who have drug, alcohol, or gambling dependence have experienced very high rates of early adversities, according to a new study published by University of Toronto researchers. One in five drug dependent Canadian adults and one in six alcohol dependent adults were survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This compares to one in 19 in the general Canadian population. More than one-half of substance abusers had been physically abused in childhood compared to one-quarter of those who were not addicted. After accounting for mental illness, poverty, and social support, both sexual and physical abuse were associated with twice the odds of drug dependence.”



“We found that both direct (physical and sexual abuse) and indirect (witnessing parental domestic violence) forms of childhood victimization are associated with substance abuse” said lead author, Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Institute for Life Course & Aging.

“We were surprised that chronic parental domestic violence exposure remained significantly associated with both drug and alcohol dependence, even when we adjusted for childhood maltreatment, depression and most of the known risk factors for substance dependency” said lead author, Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Institute for Life Course & Aging.

“In fact, the odds of alcohol dependence among those who witnessed their parents’ chronic domestic violence were about 50% higher than those without that exposure, and these odds were similar in magnitude to that of childhood sexual abuse. One in seven adults with drug dependence or alcohol dependence had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence. This compares to one in 25 in the general population. Parental domestic violence was considered ‘chronic’ if it occurred 11 or more times before the respondent was age 16.”

Further research is needed to understand the pathways through which witnessing chronic parental domestic violence and childhood maltreatment during the respondent’s childhood may increase the prevalence of drug and alcohol dependence across the life course. ” Fuller-Thomson suggests that “the chronic chaotic and violent home environment may have predisposed individuals to turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of coping.”



The study was based upon a representative sample of 21,544 adult Canadians drawn from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health components. At some point in their life, 628 of these respondents had been dependent upon drugs and 849 had been dependent upon alcohol.

Co-author and recent MSW graduate, Jessica Roane commented, “Our findings underline the importance of preventing childhood abuse and domestic violence. In addition, social workers and other health professionals must continue to support survivors of these childhood adversities across the lifespan, with particular attention to substance abuse and dependence issues.”

Other significant predictors of both alcohol and drug dependence include lower levels of education, poverty, being male, being single as opposed to married, and a history of depression and/or anxiety disorders.


Author’s Note:

“I can tell you from my own past childhood sex abuse and
trauma, that I always knew turning to gambling and alcohol
was my “comfort and escape” in my adulthood. Those who have
read my memoir knows some of what I went
through as a little girl.



And, I can also tell you NO little girl should have to go through that type of trauma or parental physical discipline abuse. Each child from one household can be affected differently as well. I learned most of these underlying issues in therapy. So, some of us DO learn some of the “why’s” when going through treatment and therapy. It is also why I don’t fully agree with the “12-Step Program.”  They say in their materials that “we can recover without knowing the WHY?”  Well, many of us do learn some of the “why’s.”

NO, no excuses, just my own insights of my addiction and recovery experience. I now feel more validated after reading this study, as I have been saying this for years. All I ever wanted was to be heard as a little girl. All I wanted as a grown woman was to heard and to just be validated. The day I was brave enough to tell my parents about the sex abuse, I could not keep locked deep inside anymore. They didn’t believe me. My mother thought I was saying she was a bad mother, as she told me she would “have known” if that had really happened to me. Well, gee, slap my face again!

That is what it felt like. Her telling me what I DIDN’T GO Through? That was like being abused all over again. I felt rage and anger that they didn’t believe me. That was when all my side of the family started treating me like a mental freak and it only got worse after my first failed suicide attempt and crisis center stay. When they found I was suffering bipolar  depression and PTSD they had no understanding and our relationship became even more distant. Not on my part. That is when I learned acceptance, or I would have really lost my mind! Always remember friends, you sanity, well-being, and mental health depends upon YOU and no one else to  “Feel Validated & Heard!” . . . .

Until Next Time Recovery Friend!

Author & Columnist, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
“Gambling Recovery Starts Here!”



2 thoughts on “Finally. Research Validates What I Knew Already About Childhood Trauma and Addiction.

  1. Thanks my dear friend for opening up yourself to share your experiences with these issues.

    I have felt like you have many times in my journey. It is what I was using gambling and alcohol for. When I couldn’t stuff away the “bad things” any longer, and the old pain came back to haunt me in adulthood, even therapy at that time didn’t seem to help.

    I had to come to a place of “Forgiveness and Acceptance” and learn a healthy way to process all of it for ME, and no else. I learned I don’t need the “Validation” anymore. I gave it all to God. And he tells us to forgive and get on with life.

    He will take care of those responsible. Why should I continue to live in “Hate and Turmoil”?? So those who hurt me can see that I am miserable?

    NOPE!! Not anymore! ❤ ❤



  2. This also goes for rape victims, adult sexual abuse and domestic violence. Even though I was an adult when all these things happened to me I’ve never really gotten over or through any of these incidents and still suffer from triggers to this day. No amount of therapy, church, meditation, anti-depressants (pills made things worse) or hospitalizations has ever helped me. The violence I went through is etched on my mind and imprinted in my soul.

    “When people tell you to ‘get over it’” @Jonwestenberg

    Liked by 1 person

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