A developmental psychopathology perspective on substance use: Illustrations from the research on child maltreatment

Dante Cicchetti, Fred A. Rogosch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


In this chapter, a developmental psychopathology conceptualization of child maltreatment is presented as an overarching heuristic with relevance for understanding the development of alcohol and substance use and abuse. This chapter also provides illustrations from research on how child maltreatment contributes to problem substance use in adolescence. Child maltreatment represents an extreme failure of the caregiving environment to provide many of the expectable experiences necessary to facilitate normal developmental processes. Maltreatment ushers in a probabilistic epigenesis for children characterized by an increased likelihood of failure and disruption in the successful resolution of major developmental tasks. These repeated disruptions lead to compromised developmental organizations of diverse developmental systems that increase the probability of the emergence of maladaptation, psychopathology, and substance abuse as negative transactions between the child and the environment ensue. Person-centered personality organizations and genetic moderation of maltreatment risk on substance use outcomes are also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAlcohol Use Disorders
Subtitle of host publicationA Developmental Science Approach to Etiology
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780190676025
ISBN (Print)9780190676001
StatePublished - Jan 18 2018



  • Child maltreatment
  • Developmental psychopathology
  • Multilevel research
  • Organizational perspective
  • Substance use

Cite this

Cicchetti, D., & Rogosch, F. A. (2018). A developmental psychopathology perspective on substance use: Illustrations from the research on child maltreatment. In Alcohol Use Disorders: A Developmental Science Approach to Etiology (pp. 17-29). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190676001.003.0002