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Girls Who Suffer Child Abuse May Abuse Alcohol as Adults

Survey found a strong association between the two, researchers say

MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Women who were sexually or physically abused as children are at increased risk for drinking problems, researchers say.

In the study, researchers analyzed data from almost 3,700 women who took part in the 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Survey. The investigators found that women who reported that they had been sexually abused as children were more likely to also report that they drank four or more alcoholic drinks daily, that they were alcohol dependent, and that they drank in a way that could pose serious threats to their health.

The findings show "a strong association between having a history of child abuse and problems with alcohol abuse," lead author E. Anne Lown, a scientist with the Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, Calif., said in a Center for Advancing Health news release.

"The take-home message is across a range of alcohol consumption patterns, child abuse is consistently associated with alcohol abuse. All of my measures found that association," she added.

The results of the study were released online Nov. 17 in advance of publication in the February print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"We, as a society, have to take responsibility for the healing of children and adults with a history of child abuse," Lown said. "We need to screen for abuse in all settings -- not just screen for but have interventions in place that will address the long-term consequences of child abuse. Without screening, the problem will not be recognized."

More information

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more about child sexual abuse.

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