The Impact of Childhood Trauma on Substance Use Trajectories From Adolescence to Adulthood: Findings From a Longitudinal Hispanic Cohort Study

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Child Abuse and Neglect



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Background: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) are associated with substance use in adolescence and adulthood. However, there is a lack of longitudinal research examining the effect of ACE on substance use trajectories from adolescence through emerging adulthood. Objective: This study examined the role of ACE in substance use trajectories among Hispanic emerging adults. Participants: We surveyed a cohort of Hispanic adolescents (n = 1399) in Southern California across eight survey waves (beginning in 9th grade and continuing through emerging adulthood). Methods: Growth curve models were used to examine the effect of ACE on past 30-day cigarette, marijuana, and alcohol use over seven time points, and an interaction term of ACE ∗ time was included to investigate the cross-level effect of ACE. Results: ACE was a significant predictor at 9th grade across all substances. Every additional ACE was associated with significantly higher past 30-day cigarette use (β = 0.05, 95%CI = 0.01, 0.10), marijuana use, (β = 0.15, 95%CI = 0.06, 0.25) and alcohol use (β = 0.14, 95%CI = 0.06, 0.21). Across all models, cross level interactions between ACE and time indicated that young adults exposed to more ACE experience significantly steeper inclining trajectories of 30-day cigarette use (β = 0.05, 95%CI = 0.02, 0.68), marijuana use (β = 0.07, 95%CI = 0.03, 0.11), and alcohol use (β = 0.02, 95%CI = 0.02, 0.68) than young adults with fewer ACE. Conclusion: ACE continue to have an impact on substance use trends through emerging adulthood. Results highlight the graded effect of ACE on substance use during and beyond adolescence and illustrate that ACE exposure is linked to an escalation of substance use frequency.


Adverse Childhood Experiences; Alcohol; Cigarette; Emerging adulthood; Hispanic; Marijuana


Child Psychology | Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Substance Abuse and Addiction



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