Childhood maltreatment, motives to drink and alcohol-related problems in young adulthood

Sunny H. Shin, Gabriela Ksinan Jiskrova, Susan H. Yoon, Julia M. Kobulsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Young adults with a history of child maltreatment (CM) are often vulnerable to alcohol-related problems. Drinking motives have been widely studied to explain alcohol-related problems in young adulthood. Objectives: The aims of the current study were to examine the link between CM and alcohol-related problems and to test whether CM is indirectly related to alcohol-related problems via different types of drinking motives. Participants and setting: Two hundred eight participants were recruited in a mid-Atlantic urban area (M age = 19.7, 78.4 % female) via advertisements placed throughout the community. Methods: Participants completed self-report measures of CM (Childhood Trauma Questionnaire), types of drinking motives (the Drinking Motives Questionnaire Revised Short Form), and alcohol-related problems (Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index). Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test whether CM was associated with alcohol use, both directly and indirectly, through drinking motives. Results: We found that both coping (β = 0.53,p < 0.001) and enhancement drinking motives (β = 0.15, p = 0.031) were associated with alcohol-related problems. Additionally, CM was related to alcohol-related problems indirectly via coping motive (β = 0.11, p = 0.028). Conclusion: Young adults with a history of CM may use alcohol to cope with trauma-related negative emotionality. Targeting emotional distress in CM-exposed individuals may be helpful in preventing and treating alcohol-related problems in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104657
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth ( VFHY8521238 ; Shin). The Foundation had no role in the study design, collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript, or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Alcohol-related problems
  • Child maltreatment
  • Drink to cope
  • Drinking motives
  • Young adults


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