UMass Study: Childhood Adversity Leads to Higher Substance Abuse Among Veterans

Jan 12, 2018

A new study led by a UMass Amherst researcher suggests that childhood trauma leads to higher rates of alcohol and drug use in military veterans.

Using a broad, national data set, researchers linked the number of terrible childhood events to the likelihood a veteran will turn to alcohol or drugs after military service.

UMass health professor Elizabeth Evans said she was surprised to learn that women vets in particular, who have higher rates of childhood abuse than civilians, also have higher rates of alcoholism and drug use.

"Perhaps there's a chance to address -- or recognize and address -- this risk factor and do something about it before it leads to alcohol and drug abuse," she said.

Evans said male veterans also have higher rates of childhood adversity than the general population, but less so than women.

The study found alcoholism among male vets is about the same as civilians, but drug abuse is slightly higher.