A study of 113 women who injected drugs in Philadelphia looked into the links between childhood physical and sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression and high-risk sex and drug taking. 56% of the sample reported childhood sexual abuse and 68% childhood physical abuse. Out of the whole sample 23% suffered from depression while 53% suffered from both PTSD and depression (co-morbid). Childhood sexual abuse was associated with an increase in risk-taking behaviour but childhood physical abuse was not. Childhood sexual abuse was also associated with developing co-morbid PTSD and depression and co-morbid depression and PTSD was associated with increased risk-taking. Once co-morbid depression and PTSD were taken into account childhood sexual abuse was no longer associated with riskier behaviour suggesting that it was the increased risk of co-morbid PTSD and depression that led to higher levels of risk taking not childhood sexual abuse per se.
Plotzker, Rosalyn E., Metzger, David S. and Holmes, William C. - Childhood sexual and physical abuse histories, PTSD, depression, and HIV risk outcomes in women injection drug users : a potential mediating pathway. The American Journal on Addictions 2007, 16: 431-438