The effect of childhood trauma in the development of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence in individuals with social anxiety disorder
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Increased rates of alcohol abuse and childhood trauma have been reported in previous studies of anxiety disorders, and social anxiety disorder (SAD) in particular. Yet the exact nature of this relationship remains unclear. This study aimed to assess whether SAD is a risk factor for later development of alcohol use disorders (AUD) and to investigate the association of childhood trauma with the prospective SAD-AUD comorbidity in adults with SAD. Data from fifty seven adult participants (N=57) with a primary diagnosis of SAD (mean age 36.7; 60% male) completed the self-rated Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) as well as the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS), a measure of SAD symptom severity. Alcohol abuse and dependence information were assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for Axis I Disorders-Patient Version (SCID-I/P). Data from sixty two adult age and gender match controls were used as a comparison group. A Cognitive Behavioural Model and the Social Learning Model are the theoretical frameworks utilised in the conceptualisation of this research. The data is quantitative in nature and will be statistically analysed using descriptive statistics, logistic regression and ANOVA using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17.0. Informed consent was obtained in writing from all participants. The findings of the study were that 73.7% of the SAD sample met severity criteria for at least one type of childhood abuse or neglect as measured by the CTQ subscales using previously established thresholds. Physical neglect was found to be significantly associated with increased SAD symptom severity.17.5% of the SAD sample had a comorbid lifetime alcohol use disorder (AUD) and of those 80% reported experiencing childhood trauma. In conclusion there was a high rate of childhood trauma in individuals with SAD and there is a strong association between childhood trauma and comorbid AUDs in those with SAD.Thus screening for childhood trauma in SAD individuals is clinically prudent.