Substance Addicted Patients: A Survey of Childhood Adverse Experiences


Vilnius University Medical Faculty, Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius University Medical Faculty, Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius University Medical Faculty, Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius University Medical Faculty, Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius University Medical Faculty Psychiatric Clinic, Vilnius, Lithuania


Aim: The purpose of the survey was to interview substance addicted patients from Lithuania and explore their experiences of childhood and adolescence.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out on Vilnius Centre for Addictive Disorders patients. The patients were asked about feelings and memories of school years, leisure activities, family, relationships, social background during their childhood and the development of substance addiction. Demographic, treatment information and diagnosis were acquired from medical histories. Excel was used to collect systemized data. Authors’ scheme was used to analyse quantitative and qualitative data.

Results: 30 patients took part in the survey. Participant groups: I – alcohol-dependant n=16 (7 women and 9 men), II – drug-dependant n=14 (3 women, 11 men). The mean of age of group I – 43.9±10.1, II – 30.8±6.1. The mean age of onset of addiction: I – 28±8.9, II – 18±2.7; the mean of duration of addiction: I – 16.5±7.2, II – 12.8±4.6. Most patients had experienced severe physical and emotional trauma and abuse. 56% of group I and 86% of II had good family relationships. 44% of group I and 50% of II had addicted relatives. A fair number of the patients had expressed problematic behavior as children. Further insights from the survey and complex prevention recommendations will be presented.

Conclusions: Drug dependence begun at a younger age than alcohol dependence. Most substance addicted patients had experienced serious physical and emotional harm, almost half of them had addicted relatives. Nevertheless, most patients, especially drug-addicted, described their family relationships as good. Individual stories of substance addicted patients’ childhood experiences serve as valuable material for the clinical work.