Scientific article
Publication Date
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United States
emotional abuse
Opioid use
substance use

Emotional Abuse during Childhood Linked to Future Opioid Use

Recently published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, a new study claims the existence of a link between childhood abuse and opioid use later in life.

According to the investigation, emotional abuse, specifically, more so than sexual or physical abuse, maltreatment or neglect, correlates with an increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour during adolescence and of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during adulthood.

From its sample, the study found that opioid use provided a refuge for those suffering from PTSD. The severity of the PTSD was in direct relation to the severity of one’s opioid-related problems. Lead author Matthew Price notes: “To protect themselves from strong emotions and from trauma cues that can bring on PTSD symptoms, people with this kind of childhood experience frequently adopt a strategy of avoidance, which can include opioid use."

The findings could path the way towards more effective opioid-use treatment programmes, explaining why some users do not find substance abuse counselling or PTSD treatment particularly effective. “Drug addiction and mental health issues are often treated separately by different kinds of specialists”, continues Price. As a result of the study, "we should really start to explore more integrated treatment," he concludes.

Click here to read more in Addictive Behaviors.

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