Life Adversities and Trauma as Factors of Addictive Behaviors: Analysis of Accumulation Across the Earliest Life Period

1, 2 Alla Ataliieva
2 Bohdan Biron
3 Vsevolod Rozanov

1 Odessa “Steps” Rehabilitation Center for Drug and Alcohol Addicts; Ukraine
2 Odessa National Mechnikov University; Ukraine
3 Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia


Within this study 117 drug and alcohol addicts (97 males and 20 females) were compared with a matching group of healthy controls. All respondents were questioned regard-ing negative life events (NLE) that have happened to them during different periods of their life, in particular when they were 0-6, 7-14, 15-18 and 19 and more years old. The questionnaire consisted of 69 questions which cov-ered such issues as “assault”, “divorce/separation”, “ma-jor financial problems”, “serious illness or injury”, “legal problems”, “loss of confidant”, “serious marital problems”, “being robbed”, “serious difficulties at work”, “serious housing problems” and “job loss”, etc. Events related to the personal network and early life period included death of a parent, loss of an individual in the network, alcohol and drug addiction of a parent, problems in relations with parents, separation from parents, being brought up by persons other than parents, housing problems, hav-ing very bad relations with a parent, etc. It was found that the life course of NLE accumulation in addicts is 3 times higher than in controls, the differences were statistically significant (p<0,001) in all life periods. In the hierarchical regression model which was used, accumulation of NLEs in the early childhood and young adulthood (after 19) have a bigger impact than periods of school years and ad-olescence. Analysis of NLEs in the earliest life period (0-6 years) in addicts showed that alcohol problems in parents and perceived feelings that parents do not love them and even torture them emotionally were much more frequent than in controls. Other strong associations were with be-ing brought up by people other than parents and father’s addiction. Physical and sexual violence were not among the priorities and were not so strongly associated with addiction. The results are discussed in terms of possible cultural peculiarities than may influence prioritization of childhood adversities and their relevance for further de-velopment of addictive behavior. The results obtained may be helpful while building rehabilitation measures for addicts, especially during family therapy.

Keywords: alcohol and drug addiction, life stress, negative li- fe events, early life adversities, psychological trauma, parent- child relations