Dr. Mustafa al’Absi, a licensed psychologist and professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health recently published his findings in the International Review of Neurobiology, looking at the long-term effects of stress and early-life adversity on addiction. 

This article addresses the important mainstream health concerns regarding stress, mental health, addiction and trauma. Individuals with addiction problems have a higher prevalence of trauma exposure than non-drug users; and this association extends to young populations (e.g., adolescents). Preclinical, clinical and population research demonstrates that stress and early-life adversity (ELA) increase vulnerability to initiate, maintain and relapse in addiction.

The long-term effects of stress and ELA on the brain contribute to abnormalities of the stress response, emotional reactivity, abnormalities in the brain reward systems, cognitive dysregulation and delay discounting. These all can lead to impulsive and high-risk behaviors, such as drug abuse and relapse. 

al'Absi M. The influence of stress and early-life adversity on addiction: Psychobiological mechanisms of risk and resilience. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2020;152:71-100. doi:10.1016/bs.irn.2020.03.012