The relationship between childhood exposure to substance use and substance use as an adult
It is a common fact that drug and alcohol abuse has become a complex problem with children in South Africa. There is also a risk that children of substance abusers will become substance abusers themselves. The aim of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between childhood exposure to substance use and substance use as an adult. The theory that was implemented in the study was the Social Learning Theory. The participants were obtained from an outpatient substance abuse treatment centre. A cross sectional study design was used whereby 192 participants were requested to complete an adapted version of the Child Exposure to Domestic Violence scale. The results of the study show that 48% of the respondents experienced exposure to substance abuse which they witnessed as a child. The results of the study indicated that past exposure to substance abuse accounted for a mean of 2.47. Respondents also responded in terms of exposure to parent/s that abused substances, which had a mean of 2.12. The results illustrated that there is a significant positive relationship between past experiences of substance abuse and current experiences of substance abuse within the total sample (r=.39, p:0.01). The study showed that for gender a positive relationship was found for males (r = .23, p:0.01) and for females (r = .34, p:0.01). In terms of family structure there was a significantly positive relationship, which for one parent was (r = .23, p: 0.05) and for two-parent families was(r = .38, p: 0.01). In conclusion early intervention strategies for children who are at risk and who are exposed to substance abuse, should be implemented.