Childhood abuse and harmful substance use among criminal offenders

Marc T. Swogger, Kenneth R. Conner, Zach Walsh, Stephen A. Maisto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Childhood abuse is a serious problem that has been linked to harmful alcohol and drug use in non-offender samples. In a sample of 219 criminal offenders, we examined the associations between childhood physical and sexual abuse and three indices of harmful substance use. Results indicate that physical abuse was associated with symptoms of alcohol use disorder and sexual abuse was associated with symptoms of drug use disorder among offenders. Both forms of childhood abuse were associated with substance use consequences, even after taking into account substance type and frequency of use. No gender by childhood abuse interactions were found. Symptoms of depression and generalized anxiety partially mediated relationships between childhood abuse and substance use consequences. Findings underscore the importance of assessing childhood abuse and treating anxiety and depression among offenders who exhibit harmful substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1205-1212
Number of pages8
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Alcohol use
  • Child abuse
  • Criminal offenders
  • Drug use
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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