Comparison of childhood sexual histories in subjects with pedophilia or opiate addiction and healthy controls: Is childhood sexual abuse a risk factor for addictions?

Lisa J. Cohen, Howard Forman, Matthew Steinfeld, Yuli Fradkin, Steven Frenda, Igor Galynker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Given the recent interest in the concept of sexual addictions, it is instructive to study subjects with pedophilia alongside chemically addicted individuals and non-addicted controls in order to help identify which factors may determine the objects of people's respective addictions, as well as any factors that may predispose people to developing an addictive disorder. METHOD: In this study, we considered whether childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a specific risk factor for pedophilia as opposed to other types of addictive disorders by comparing the childhood sexual histories of 48 pedophilic sex offenders, 25 subjects with opiate addiction in remission, and 61 healthy controls. CSA was assessed with The Sexual History Questionnaire and the Child Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). RESULTS: Compared with both opiate addicted subjects and healthy controls, subjects with pedophilia were more likely to report experiencing adult sexual advances when they were children and a first sexual contact by age 13 with a partner at least 5 years older. Although both subjects with pedophilia and those with opiate addiction first had sex at a younger age than healthy controls, opiate addicted subjects, compared with healthy controls, reported neither increased reception of sexual advances as children nor increased rates of first sexual contact before age 13 with a partner at least 5 years older. Further, subjects with pedophilia but not those with opiate addiction scored significantly higher than healthy controls on the CTQ. CONCLUSION: Sexual abuse in childhood may be a specific risk factor for sexual addictions such as pedophilia but may not be a specific risk factor for chemical addictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-404
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of psychiatric practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010



  • behavioral addiction
  • child sexual abuse
  • opiate addiction
  • pedophilia
  • sexual addiction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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