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Compr Psychiatry. 2007 Mar-Apr;48(2):178-85. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Traumatic experiences and posttraumatic stress disorders: differences between treatment-seeking early- and late-onset alcoholic patients.

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  • 1Psychiatric Centre Brothers Alexians, 2530 Boechout, Belgium.


Childhood traumatic experiences have been suggested to relate to early-onset alcoholism and to negatively influence the severity and course of alcohol use disorders. Early-onset alcoholic (n = 54) and late-onset alcoholic (n = 65) inpatients were compared as to the severity of their childhood traumatic experiences, prevalence of current and lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depressive symptoms. The early-onset alcoholic patients had a higher number and more severe childhood traumatic experiences compared with the late-onset alcoholic patients. More female than male alcohol-dependent patients had lifetime PTSD diagnosis. Finally, specifically within the female alcoholic patients the severity of early childhood experiences was positively associated with the severity of current substance use and related problems. Within early-onset alcoholic treatment-seeking populations, active screening for childhood traumatic experiences and current PTSD is advised in view of treatment planning.

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