Childhood Punishment and Risk for Alcohol use Disorders: Data from South Africa
Stein, D. J.
Williams, D. R.
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Previous research predominantly from the developed world investigating the association between early childhood physical punishment (CPP) and later alcohol use has resulted in mixed findings. The purpose of the present study is to use the South African Stress and Health (SASH) study dataset to investigate whether there is an association between CPP and later alcohol problems among participants with and without caregivers who had alcohol and other drug problems (CAODP). A national survey of 4,351 South African adults was conducted as part of the World Mental Health Survey (WMHS). Participants were asked about early life experiences (including CPP), caregiver alcohol or other drug problems (CAODP), and alcohol outcomes. A modest association between CPP and later alcohol use was found in participants who reported an absence of CAODP (4 out of 10 alcohol outcomes remained significantly associated with CPP). For participants with a history of CAODP, the association between CPP and later alcohol use was weaker (only 1 alcohol outcome was significantly associated with CPP). Longitudinal research is necessary to clarify the causal mechanisms which underlie the association between CPP and Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs). In the interim, these findings point to the potential value of addressing CPP in order to reduce the prevalence of alcohol use disorders in South Africa.