Latest research from a national sample of almost 10,000 U.S. adolescents found psychological trauma, especially abuse and domestic violence before age 11, can increase the likelihood of experimentation with drugs in adolescence, independent of a history of mental illness. Results of the study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health are published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
This is the first study to document these associations in a national sample of adolescents.
The research, led by Mailman School of Public Health postdoctoral fellow Hannah Carliner and Associate Professor Silvia S. Martins, MD, PhD, found that childhood trauma experiences before age 11 increased the chances that teens would try marijuana, cocaine, prescription drugs used without a medical reason, other drugs, and multiple drugs. They also showed that a greater number of traumatic experiences were associated with an increase in risk for use of marijuana and other drugs.
"Abuse and domestic violence were particularly harmful to children, increasing the chances of all types of drug use in the adolescent years", says Dr. Carliner. "We also found that trauma such as car accidents, natural disasters, and major illness in childhood increased the chances that teens would use marijuana, cocaine, and prescription drugs."
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