This study describes the prevalence of childhood traumatic events (CTEs) among adults with comorbid substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health problems (MHPs) and assesses the relation between cumulative CTEs and adult health outcomes. Adults with SUDs/MHPs (N=402) were recruited from residential treatment programs and interviewed at treatment admission. Exposures to 9 types of adverse childhood experiences were summed and categorized into 6 ordinal levels of exposure. Descriptive analyses were conducted to assess the prevalence and range of exposure to CTEs in comparison with a sample from primary health care. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the association between the cumulative exposure to CTEs and adverse health outcomes. Most of the sample reported exposure to CTEs, with higher exposure rates among the study sample compared with the primary health care sample. Greater exposure to CTEs significantly increased the odds of several adverse adult outcomes, including PTSD, alcohol dependence, injection drug use, tobacco use, sex work, medical problems, and poor quality of life. Study findings support the importance of early prevention and intervention and provision of trauma treatment for individuals with SUDs/MHPs.
Keywords: adverse childhood events, mental health, substance abuse, physical health problems