Childhood Trauma Can Lead To Prescription Drug Misuse In Adulthood

There is a strong association between drug use and psychological factors. Scientists wanted to further explore this association for which they conducted a research between childhood trauma and adulthood prescription pain reliever misuse (PPRM) and injection drug use (IDU) in US population to thoroughly investigate factors associated with these prominent issues.

The results showed that there is indeed a strong relationship between childhood trauma and adulthood prescription pain reliever misuse (PPRM) and injection drug use (IDU) in emerging adults and adulthood.

Substance use and mental disorder remains a growing concern for the youth even with significant advancements in healthcare. According to a recent report, published by Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) under the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 21.4% of teenagers have suffered or are currently suffering from a mental disorder, bringing in the highest number of hospital stays in 2012.

In many cases, mental diseases such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and conduct disorder are often present in adolescents before they start using drugs. In other cases, drug abuse itself may also trigger or worsen co-morbid mental conditions in some adolescents.

Since there is such a strong confounding factors between the two disorders, it can be often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of each disease.

The scientists used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health data on 12,288 adults and included 9 childhood traumas: neglect, emotional, physical, sexual abuse, parental incarceration and binge drinking, witnessed, threatened with and experienced violence.

The scientists adjusted odd ratios (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals to relate the association with each type of trauma and overall trauma and drug commencement in emerging and later adulthood.

Study results showed that PPRM and IDU was observed in 20% and 1% cases respectively in emerging adulthood and 10% cases of PPRM were observed in adulthood. The researchers also considered the dose-response relationships that varied across several different outcomes.

Cumulative trauma was associated with 34 to 79% greater odds of PPRM in emerging adulthood against one to five categories of trauma. Dose-response was less consistent for IDU, but 4 and greater than 5 traumas were linked with almost seven and five times the risk of IDU.

Neglect, emotional abuse and parental confinement punishment and binge drinking were associated with 25 to 55% increased risk of PPRM. Sexual abuse and witnessed violence were associated with nearly 3 and 5 times the odds of IDU respectively.

Lifestyle habits can also trigger substance abuse disorders in adolescents. A recent study showed that bad sleeping habits during childhood are linked with substance abuse in adolescents. The study was conducted by scientists from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Pitt Department of Psychology.

The study showed that less sleep hours in adolescents predicted earlier onset of alcohol and cannabis abuse. A recent study investigated the possible link association between the duration and quality of sleep at age 11 and alcohol and cannabis use throughout adolescence.

More specifically, less sleep was associated with substance use at an early age, intoxication, and repeated use of both alcohol and weed, whereas poor sleep quality was linked with earlier alcohol use, intoxication and repeated use. Moreover, poor sleep quality was linked with earlier cannabis intoxication and repeated use, but not first use.

This could be due to the fact that once circadian rhythms get disrupted, biological processes such as feeding patterns, body temperature, alertness, body restoration processes such as cell regeneration and hormone production get affected, any one of which could be responsible for making children susceptible to substance abuse.

It is important to know that good parenting techniques can prevent bad habits in children. As parents are responsible for setting good behavior in their kids, little acts such as setting their sleep timings can have a massive impact on their tendency to abuse illicit substances.

Furthermore, it is important that children have good healthy environment at home since domestic violence due to parents’ fighting can lead a child scarred and traumatized. This could lead to depression in later life and aggravate an individual’s drinking problems.

Although there are drugs that can treat such disorders, including the latest drug called ABT-436 which can help patients suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD), it is better to take early preventive measurements and protect individuals in their most vulnerable years, their childhood.

The study confirmed the long held connection between childhood trauma and PPRM/IDU and signified the importance for interventions focusing on traumas for drug users and early trauma screening and treatment to prevent illicit substance use later in life.

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