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Correlates of Sexual Abuse Among Boys in Treatment for Chemical Dependency

NCJ Number
Journal of Adolescent Chemical Dependency Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: (1990) Pages: 53-67
P A Harrison; G E Edwall; N G Hoffman; M D Worthen
Date Published
15 pages
This study of a sample of 1,227 boys in adolescent chemical dependency treatment centers identified correlates of sexual abuse in their childhood years.
The sample was taken from a group of 1,824 adolescents who entered inpatient treatment for substance abuse between 1984 and 1986. This was an aggregate of patient populations from nine adolescent treatment centers in five States affiliated with CATOR (Chemical Abuse/Addiction Treatment Outcome Registry). Patient self-report irrespective of counselor agreement was considered a positive case of sexual abuse. Only a small proportion (6.6 percent) reported a history of intrafamilial or extrafamilial sexual abuse. The victims of child sexual abuse, however, were distinguished from their counterparts by more serious psychopathology, behavioral problems, and environmental risk. They report more family violence and substance abuse, more agitation and suicidal behavior, and earlier legal troubles. They started alcohol and drug use earlier, were involved with more drugs, and used drugs more often. Their symptom patterns were more indicative of self-medication than were those of drug abusers who were not sexually abused. Underdetection and lack of therapeutic response to sexual abuse may be an impediment to victims' recovery from chemical dependence. (Author abstract modified)