Childhood Trauma Associated With Greater Risk of Adult Drug Abuse Interview with:

Kelly Quinn, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor Department of Population Health NYU Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016-6481

Dr. Kelly Quinn

Kelly Quinn, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Department of Population Health
NYU Langone Medical Center
New York, NY 10016-6481 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The prescription pain reliever misuse epidemic in the United States has contributed to a dramatic increase in overdoses and overdose mortality and is linked to injection drug use. Identification of upstream drivers of drug misuse is crucial for prevention strategies. We aimed to further the knowledge of the association between traumatic experiences in childhood and drug misuse in adulthood.

Using nationally-representative data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we examined the associations of nine childhood traumas (neglect; emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; parent binge drinking and incarceration; and witnessing, being threatened with, and experiencing violence) with prescription pain reliever misuse and injection drug use in emerging adulthood and adulthood. Some, but not all, traumas independently predicted drug misuse. However, this analysis found that the cumulative number of traumas predicted drug misuse in a dose-response fashion. That is, relative to children reporting no trauma, increasing number of traumas in childhood was associated with higher odds of initiating drug misuse later in life. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These findings add to evidence that the trauma load during stress-sensitive childhood has negative health consequences throughout the life course and have immediate public health significance. Prescribing patterns for prescription pain relievers must be carefully monitored in order to prevent misuse, addiction, and escalation to heroin use and drug injection. Screening for and addressing childhood trauma may be an important strategy to prevent initiation of drug use, and for drug users, trauma-informed interventions throughout the life course are important for treatment and mitigation of relapse. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research is needed to elucidate causal mechanisms, to better understand the influence of age at childhood trauma, and to clarify escalation from misusing prescription pain relievers to injecting drugs. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


APHA 2016 abstract and publication

Associations between Childhood Traumatic Events and Adulthood Prescription Pain Pill Misuse and Injection Drug Use in the United States
Quinn, Kelly et al.
Drug & Alcohol Dependence , Volume 0 , Issue 0
Published online: October 04, 2016

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Last Updated on November 1, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD