The impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on behavioral, mental, and physical health have been extensively investigated. As such, it is paramount to synthesize their quantified effects, especially within vulnerable populations. The goal of this scoping review was to collect, summarize, and synthesize existing research on ACEs and substance use (SU) in adult sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations.
WebofScience, APA PsychInfo, LGBTQ+ Life (EBSCO), Google Scholar, and PubMed electronic databases were searched. We included reports published between 2014 and 2022 that assessed SU outcomes, ACEs in adult (18+) SGM populations, in the United States (US). We excluded those in which SU was not an outcome, measured community-based abuse or neglect, or investigated adulthood trauma. Data were extracted using the Matrix Method and categorized across three SU outcomes.
Twenty reports were included in the review. Nineteen employed a cross-sectional design and 80% focused on a single SGM group (transgender women, bisexual Latino men, etc.). Nine of 11 manuscripts found SU frequency and quantity were higher among ACE exposed participants. Three of four studies found ACE exposure to correlate with substance use problems and substance misuse. Four of five studies found ACE exposure to be correlated with substance use disorders.
Longitudinal research is needed to comprehend the impact of ACE on SU within the diverse subgroups of SGM adults. Investigators should prioritize the use of standard operationalizations of ACE and SU to improve comparability across studies and include diverse samples from the SGM community.