Childhood Sexual Abuse, Substance Use and Substance-Use Related Sexual Behaviour in a Rural School Population


This study explored the links between sexual abuse, timing of abuse, substance use and sexual harms as a consequence of substance use, among adolescent students in rural Western Canada. Data was obtained from the 2011 East Kootenay Adolescent Drug Use Survey, a biennial survey that assesses substance use patterns, behaviours and attitudes, and related risk behaviours amongst East Kootenay youth in Grades 7 to 12.

We found that childhood sexual abuse is strongly correlated with substance use and substance use-related sexual behaviours in adolescents. Further, the difference in odds ratios for various behaviours depending on gender and age of abuse, suggested that the timing of the sexual abuse has implications with respect to psycho-social development, coping and exposure to increased risk. Sexual abuse prevention programs, or early intervention when sexual abuse is reported, may have additional benefits by contributing to delayed and/or reduced substance use, as well as reducing unwanted or risky sexual behaviours due to substance use.

“Best Poster” Award at the Issues of Substance Conference, Vancouver 2011


Principal Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc

Co-Investigators: Dean Nicholson

Funded by the Interior Health Authority and CIHR, 2011 – 2012