Excessive Alcohol Use and Child Abuse

Links Between Child Maltreatment and Alcohol Use


According to the World Health Organization, “strong links have been found between child maltreatment and alcohol use.” Not only have studies shown that alcohol can be a “significant contributory factor” in child abuse cases but suffering child abuse as a child increases the risk of engaging in “hazardous or harmful drinking” as an adult.

How Alcohol Can Contribute to Child Maltreatment

Heavy alcohol use can greatly impact a person’s ability to think and react. There have also been numerous studies that show that excessive alcohol use and binge drinking may make a person more prone to violence.

Ways alcohol contributes to child abuse:

  • Affects cognitive function;
  • Alters physical function;
  • Reduces self-control;
  • More prone to violence; and
  • Impaired judgment and sense of responsibility.

Not Limited to Physical Abuse

Child maltreatment is not limited to physical abuse. According to the WHO, child maltreatment may include all of the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Negligent treatment
  • Exploitation
  • Anything that results in “actual or potential harm to the child’s health.”

The Economic Impact of Child Abuse and Neglect

In the United States, it is estimated that child maltreatment costs are over $90 billion per year. Children who suffer maltreatment not only suffer emotional and psychological damage, according to the World Health Organization, but they also must go through the judicial system in some cases. The impacts are far-reaching and devastating.

Children may also have costs related to medical treatment, counseling, and more. Often childhood neglect and abuse affect people well into adulthood. Studies have shown that children who were abused are more likely to suffer mental health disorders and substance use disorders as adults. 

If you are unable to stop drinking, it is important to seek professional help immediately. There are treatment options available.