The impact of childhood abuse, both childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA), is well documented. Both CSA and CPA have been associated with a number of mental health difficulties, including substance dependence. Though the association between abuse and mental health problems is well documented, what has received little attention is the impact that abuse histories may have on the ability to complete treatment for these problems. This study evaluates the association between abuse and failure to complete treatment due to substance relapse in 70 substance-dependent homeless men served by a Veterans Affairs Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program. Demographic and mental health variables were compared with incident rates of sexual and physical abuse as well as with rates of relapse prior to program completion. Contrary to predictions, results found that physical abuse, not sexual abuse, was associated with higher relapse rates. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.
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