Exploring the link between ACEs and opioid use: A systematic review
Keywords:adverse childhood experience, opioid use disorder, opioid, opiate, child abuse, childhood trauma
Objective: To review the current literature surrounding the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and opioid use disorder (OUD) to guide clinical identification of high-risk individuals and assess treatment implications.
Design: A PubMed search was conducted from the year 2000 to 2022 using a series of primary and secondary search terms. A total of 21,524 unique results were screened for relevancy to ACEs and OUDs. After excluding unrelated articles, a total of 48 articles were included in this systematic review.
Results: Increased frequency of ACEs was directly related to increased risk of OUD and lower onset age. ACEs were also associated with OUD severity. ACEs linked to OUD included childhood neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Additionally, dysfunctional childhood home environment, female gender, and psychiatric/behavioral comorbidities increased the risk of OUD, while resilience was found to be a protective factor. Multiple biochemical markers were associated with both ACEs and OUD.
Conclusions: Children experiencing multiple ACEs should be the target of preventative intervention by medical professionals. Clinicians should include ACEs in their opioid misuse risk assessment. High incidence of co-occurring psychiatric/behavioral disorders provides multiple treatment avenues for patients with OUD. Resilience, along with being therapy target, should be fostered early in the life course. Incorporation of family members may improve opioid abuse treatment outcomes. Future research should focus on interventions interrupting the progression of ACEs to OUD along with proposed biochemical pathways.
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