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Substance abuse traced to experiences of abuse and violence in childhood: Study

Substance use and abuse is a problem that needs immediate attention. Many causes of substance abuse have been cited and a recent study adds one more to the list. The study has revealed that childhood trauma increases the tendency to abuse addictive substances. Not all childhood experiences are pleasant, as for many this phase may be mired in stress due to witnessing of domestic violence or gender disparity in family relationships.

The study, titled “Three Types of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Alcohol and Drug Dependence Among Adults: An Investigation Using Population-Based Data,” observed that frequent encounters with incidents of violence during the initial years of life, both direct and indirect, can to a great extent aggravate prospects of being dependent on drugs and alcohol in later half.

The study, published online in the journal Substance Use & Misuse in June 2016, tried to determine the link between childhood abuse and tendency to abuse substances by conducting a secondary evaluation of 21,554 Canadians who had participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health (2012). For research purposes, the scientists included sexual abuse, physical abuse and instances of parental domestic violence while determining the nature of adverse childhood experiences.

Happy childhood experience can help check substance use

The scientists tested separately a series of models for each factor like adverse childhood experiences (ACE), gender, race and age bracket. Gender interactions were noted initially. In the next step, possible explanatory factors were included in the models and the nature of impact was noted. The scientists had included explanatory factors like depression, anxiousness, smoking, pain, inability to sleep, social support and social and economic status of the respondents.

It was found that ACEs were linked to increased tendencies of alcohol and drug dependence. It was observed that 2.9 percent respondents were dependent on drugs at some point in their lives, while 3.2 percent were found to be hooked on alcohol.

Elucidating the findings of the study, Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson from the University of Toronto said, “We were surprised that chronic parental domestic violence exposure remained significantly associated with both drug and alcohol dependence, even when we adjusted for childhood maltreatment, depression and most of the known risk factors for substance dependency.”

Dr. Fuller-Thomson added that the probability of becoming alcohol dependent increased by 50 percent in those who had seen prolonged parental domestic violence when compared with those with no prior experiences. Similar results were witnessed among those who had encountered instances of sexual abuse during their childhood.

Need to reach out to treatment centers

A careful look at the findings obtained indicated that rising cases of substance abuse can be curbed by managing significant factors like experiences of childhood abuse or domestic violence in families. To tackle the problem of substance abuse, it is imperative that along with friends and families, social workers and health care providers also chip in by supporting and caring for survivors of ACEs and by paying attention to their proclivity to abuse substances.

Americans seem to be dependent on some substance or the other. That necessitates the urgency to create and maintain a drug-free environment which would eventually root out most problems Americans are aggrieved with. If you or your loved one is fighting addiction, contact the 24/7 Recovery Helpline to know about drug rehab centers in your area. To know about our addiction treatment centers in U.S., call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online with our treatment advisors for expert advice about drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers in your vicinity.

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