Distinct paths to alcohol problems: Impacts of childhood maltreatment, attachment insecurity, and interpersonal problems

Hanako Murase, Raluca M. Simons, Jeffrey S. Simons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Childhood maltreatment is a strong risk factor for increased alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. One possible explanation for these associations is the influence of dysfunctional attachment styles and interpersonal problems in adulthood. Individuals who have experienced childhood maltreatment are likely to develop maladaptive interpersonal styles due to insecure attachment. Maladaptive interpersonal styles may increase emotional distress, which in turn, can make these individuals vulnerable to alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. Using data from 508 undergraduate students, this study examined the associations between three types of childhood maltreatment (i.e., sexual abuse, punishment that included physical abuse, and a negative home atmosphere that included neglect), alcohol use, and alcohol-related problems via insecure attachment and interpersonal problems. The results showed that punishment predicted alcohol problems via avoidant attachment and selfish interpersonal style. Sexual abuse and negative home atmosphere predicted alcohol consumption through anxious attachment and selfless interpersonal style. In addition, sexual abuse directly predicted alcohol problems. These findings provide new insights for the field of childhood maltreatment and addiction literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106780
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol use
  • Alcohol-related problems
  • Attachment
  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Interpersonal problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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