Substance abuse among mothers in Taiwan: Investigating its prevalence and testing the trauma model

Kunhua Lee, Stanley Kam Ki Lam, Suet Lin Hung*, Hong Wang Fung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Substance abuse is a serious problem in our society. In particular, household or parental substance abuse could lead to adverse childhood experiences for the affected children. However, little is known about the prevalence of substance abuse among parents, especially in Asian societies. Moreover, although the trauma model of addiction has significant implications for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, most evidence comes from Western samples. To address these knowledge gaps, we examined the prevalence of substance abuse in a sample of mothers in Taiwan and tested the trauma model of substance abuse. A total of 867 Taiwanese mothers completed standardized self-report assessments in 2023. The screening results indicated that the 12-month prevalence of drug abuse and alcohol abuse was 12.3% and 7.3%, respectively; 15.5% had either or both drug and alcohol abuse. Most types of trauma exposure were associated with drug abuse severity, while interpersonal stress and dissociative symptoms were associated with alcohol abuse severity, even after controlling for a variety of demographic and health variables as well as general psychopathology (i.e., depressive symptoms). The relatively high prevalence of substance abuse among Taiwanese mothers in our sample is concerning, particularly when compared to the rates reported in other Asian samples. We also provide preliminary cross-cultural evidence supporting the self-medication theory and the trauma model of substance abuse in the Asian context. We discuss the potential importance of addressing trauma and stress to prevent substance abuse and call for follow-up studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103805
JournalAsian Journal of Psychiatry
Early online date18 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Betrayal trauma
  • Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (Complex PTSD)
  • Dissociation
  • Drug abuse


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