Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

The Associations of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) With Substance Use in Young Adults: A Systematic Review

Sebalo, Ivan, Königová, Michaela Poslt, Sebalo Vňuková, Martina, Anders, Martin, Ptáček, Radek (2023) The Associations of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) With Substance Use in Young Adults: A Systematic Review. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 17 . Article Number 1178221823. ISSN 1178-2218. (doi:10.1177/11782218231193914) (KAR id:103802)


Introduction:: Young adulthood is a transitional period between adolescence and adulthood. Due to the unique pressures of taking on a new social role and associated uncertainties, young adults are at heightened risk for drug and alcohol use. Furthermore, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) increases the likelihood of using maladaptive coping strategies such as using substances to avoid or soothe negative emotions. The current review aimed to summarize the associations between exposure to ACEs before the age of 18 years and subsequent drug or alcohol use between the ages of 18 and 25 years. Methods:: The review was performed in accordance with the 2020 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The literature search of the Web of Science, PubMed, and PsycINFO databases was conducted in February 2022. Results:: The initial search yielded 7178 articles, with 777 duplicates. Consequently, 6401 titles were inspected for relevance. After reading the full text, 88 articles were included in the review. Conclusion:: This review provides clear evidence that exposure to multiple ACEs is a robust risk factor for the use of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs by young adults. Poor self-regulation and maladaptive coping strategies were identified as mechanisms explaining this link; however, further detailed research is needed.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/11782218231193914
Uncontrolled keywords: young adulthood, Adverse childhood experiences, substance use, neglect, parental abuse
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2024 14:12 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2024 10:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Sebalo, Ivan.

Creator's ORCID:
CReDIT Contributor Roles:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.