Faculty Publications

Relationships Between Adult Women's Alcohol Problems And Their Childhood Experiences Of Parental Violence And Psychological Aggression

Document Type


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Studies on Alcohol





First Page


Last Page



Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the associations between mother physical abuse, mother psychological aggression, father physical abuse and father psychological aggression and women's alcohol dependence while controlling for several demographic variables, childhood sexual abuse and mother and father alcohol problems. Method: Samples of women in treatment for substance use disorders (n = 225) and receiving services for domestic violence (n = 222) volunteered to be in the study. We used the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales to assess retrospectively experiences of parental aggression during childhood and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence based on International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) criteria. Results: Logistic regression applied to the data showed that being in the substance use disorder treatment sample, being unemployed and not being black were significantly related to a higher likelihood of lifetime diagnosis of alcohol dependence. Mother psychological aggression was found to be significantly associated with alcohol dependence. Father psychological aggression was found to be significantly related to alcohol dependence for nonwhite women but not for white women. Mother and father physical abuse were both found to be significantly related to alcohol dependence, but only for women who did not report childhood sexual abuse. Conclusions: Associations between experiences of childhood abuse and development of alcohol problems for women are complex. Experiences of mother and father abuse need to be examined separately with samples of women who are of different ethnicities and samples of women who are receiving services for different problems.


Department of Social Work

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version