Recent Studies Link Drug Addiction and Alcoholism to Childhood Abuse

Drug addictsResearch studies show a strong link between childhood abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, structural brain development, alcoholism, and drug addiction. According to neurological studies, childhood abuse has a negative effect on the development of the brain. There is a link between childhood abuse and brain structure anomalies that cause behavioral, social, and cognitive impairments.Growing up in an abusive environment causes extreme levels of stress that interfere with proper development of the brain. When stress levels and emotional trauma are considerable over time, structural disruptions in the brain are observable in neurological scans. According to brain scans, adults with a past of childhood abuse showed a 6 percent reduction in brain volume in two parts of the hippocampus and a 4 percent reduction in brain volume in the subiculum and presubiculum.Damaging the hippocampus in childhood negatively affects coping skills in adulthood. Damage to the subiculum also affects an adult’s ability to cope with stress. As a result, during periods of excessive stress, the subiculum produces high levels of neurotoxins that target and kill brain cells in the hippocampus. Over time, these neurotoxins bring about depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They also cause drug and alcohol cravings and stress-related relapses.A 2012 study at Harvard University found that 25 percent of college-age students with middle class backgrounds who had been abused as kids suffered from depression as adults. For kids who had suffered three or more types of abuse, 53 percent experienced depression, and 40 percent had been diagnosed with PTSD.

How Does Childhood Abuse Relate To Alcoholism And Drug Addiction In Adults?

Based on case studies, roughly two-thirds of all substance abusers experienced some type of abuse, domestic violence or other childhood trauma. These people are at risk for addiction; they possess a particular vulnerability to drugs and alcohol. They are at a higher risk of using substances to cope with life and to keep the unpleasant emotions associated with childhood trauma at bay.Furthermore, females that are victims of abuse as a child are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as adults. They are also more likely to develop poor coping skills, to deliberately harm themselves, to experience domestic violence in their marital relationships, and to be stricken with PTSD and eating disorders. Therefore, victims of child abuse, be they boys or girls, suffer from impaired coping skills, poor self-esteem, anxiety, loneliness, and dysfunctional relationships as adults.

The Link Between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Adult Alcohol/Drug Addiction

Sexual abuse is one of the most damaging form of childhood abuse. Sexual abuse includes molestation, sexual assault, child pornography, rape, incest, and sexual harassment. Consequently, victims of sexual abuse are three times more likely to experience depression, six times more likely to experience PTSD. Also, victims are 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to develop drug addiction.A 2016 Canadian study indicates that one in five alcoholics and one in six drug addicts had been sexually abused as children. Over 50 percent of addicts and alcoholics had also been physically abused. As a result, the combination of sexual and physical abuse doubled the possibility that a child would become an addict or an alcoholic as an adult.

The Worse Abuse May Be Emotional Abuse

Also, Researchers have found that of all the different types of child abuse, emotional, and verbal abuse meant to humiliate a child may cause the most damage. Common types of emotional abuse include telling kids they are stupid and worthless, calling them names, and telling them that they will never amount to anything. As a result, abused kids and kids from homes where there is ongoing domestic violence grow up in an environment that primes them to seek out relief in any way they can. Too often, that relief takes the form of an addiction to drugs or alcohol.


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