Child Sexual Abuse Victims: High Potential for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

“The trauma of childhood sexual abuse doesn’t stop after the act itself. The effects of sexual abuse can linger for years, debilitating victims throughout their lives and well into adulthood, according to experts.

Many sexual abuse survivors will spend their lives one way or another coping with the repercussions of the sexual violations inflicted upon them as children.

“Sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most people understand. It’s a pandemic. The aftermath is devastating and can leave individuals with significant psychological, emotional, and physical disorders that may continue indefinitely if not effectively treated. Recovery can be a lifelong challenge where survivors have trouble living normal lives as they get older,” says Peter S. Pelullo, who is a frequent guest on the Dr. Drew show and the author of the new book “Betrayal and the Beast.”

In his book Mr. Pelullo focuses on his own journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and sexual predation. For many years he kept hidden and refused to face his own debilitating issues as a survivor of sexual predation—the shame, rage, multiple addictions, depression, and other influences that directly impacted his life. Finally, at the age of fifty-five, he confronted the sexual abuse he endured as a child.

Lack of trust is a common issue for many survivors. In most cases (over ninety percent) children are abused by somebody they know, trust, and love. Perpetrators can be parents, family members, caregivers, neighbors, other adults, or even children.

Peter S. Pelullo’s concern for adult survivors of sexual child abuse led him to create the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation, an international outreach program aimed at bringing victims to the recovery process. The foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are aligned in a common goal of preventing child sexual abuse and the harm and suffering it inflicts and improving treatment for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

There is a long list of psychological, social, sexual, and physical effects in the aftermath of sexual abuse. Every day survivors struggle with the greatest challenges, such as drug and alcohol abuse; eating disorders, obesity, and anorexia; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); depression and suicide; and many others.

According to, victims of sexual abuse are:

– 3 times more likely to suffer from depression

– 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder

– 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol

– 26 times more likely to abuse drugs

– 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide”

26 times more likely to abuse drugs! This is why I never judge people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. We never know what kind of pain someone has experienced in their lives, and never know what hell they live with in their own mind. Drugs and alcohol are an escape system.

“While it’s a difficult journey, there is now more help and hope than ever for men and women who have experienced sexual predation and sexual molestation as children,” says Mr. Pelullo. “If you are one of these adults, don’t allow the trauma to continue interfering with your life. There is hope, so don’t wait to start the recovery process.”


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One Response to Child Sexual Abuse Victims: High Potential for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

  1. little nel says:

    I agree, Alethea, that substance abuse is just a symptom of emotional pain. They drink and self-medicate to escape or ease the pain for a while.

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