Children who have been treated wrongly often show signs of mental and emotional distress. Anxiety, depression and aggression can all be signs that a person was mistreated early on. In some cases, the person will have lifelong difficulty in forming health attachments. Substance abuse is another of the sad outcomes that can plague children who have experienced maltreatment.
Having a family history of substance abuse increases the chances that anyone will turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. But not until a Columbia University study have experts examined how gender affects the risk of substance abuse among mistreated children. That study revealed that while no child remains unscathed from having been abused, girls who’ve been abused face a greater risk for alcohol addiction.
Family History Of Alcohol
The Columbia study was a collaborative research effort with the Mailman School of Public Health. The joint team used data from a national survey to evaluate the links between childhood mistreatment, family alcohol history and personal alcohol use. The survey provided researchers with close to 30,000 questionnaire responses, giving them a substantive base for examination.
The study revealed that girls who’ve been emotionally or sexually abused and who have a family history of alcohol abuse are at great risk for alcohol addiction themselves. The review of data showed that there are several factors that lay down layers of risk for individuals. Being abused is one risk factor; that is compounded when the abused person comes from a family where at least one closely related member has alcohol addiction. Now we know that girls are at greater risk, especially if they were sexually or emotionally exploited.
Positive Action To Deal With Trauma
Risk, however, is not the same thing as predetermination. Girls who’ve been abused in this way and whose family history is a risk factor are not destined to become addicted to alcohol. Especially if the young woman takes positive action to deal with her trauma, she can peel back those layers of risk and live free of dependency. Women who are dealing with childhood abuse can find help. Counseling can help women break free from the shadow of risk.
Different Forms of Abuse
The researchers found that different forms of childhood abuse tended to have different outcomes. Some forms of childhood suffering did not seem connected to later alcohol abuse even when the family had a shared history of alcohol dependency. There were definite types of mistreatment that led to problem drinking and there was a definite gender link in certain cases.
The sooner a woman seeks help, the more likely it becomes that she will be able to avoid the trap of alcohol addiction. Women don’t need to wait until they are in the throes of addiction to deal with their childhood trauma. Therapy can help women sort through the fallout of abuse and alert them the dangers of using alcohol to drown out negative emotions and self-messages.
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