Viewpoint: Federal opioid response must address childhood trauma

Congress should implement federal policies to better support trauma-informed treatment approaches for victims of the opioid crisis, as childhood trauma is a major driver of addiction, Marlo Nash, senior vice president of public policy and mobilization for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill.

Healthcare experts discussed the link between childhood trauma and the opioid epidemic during the "Substance Use and Childhood Trauma: Addressing the Impacts of the Opioid Crisis on Children" briefing held June 5 on Capitol Hill.

Here are four insights from the op-ed:

1. During the briefing, Nadine Burke Harris, MD and author of a book, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, shared how stress affects children who grow up in households with substance abuse, child abuse, domestic violence and other forms of trauma.

"Childhood trauma is both the cause and the consequence of the present opioid crisis and is, in fact, the most important public health issue of our time," Frank Kros, president of The Upside Down Organization in Baltimore and a member organization of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, said during the briefing.

2. Ms. Nash cited research on adverse childhood experiences, which "can have a profound and lasting impact on a child's ability to focus, learn, apply impulse control, resist negative behaviors, and even has a measurable impact on health outcomes, increasing risk for substance abuse, chronic lung disease, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more, across a lifetime," she wrote.

3. Ms. Nash also highlighted the findings of a 2017 report conducted by the ACF illustrating parental drug use has fueled a massive increase in the number of children placed in foster care.

4. Research into childhood trauma is critical information for lawmakers seeking to pass federal legislation to address the ongoing opioid crisis, according to Ms. Nash.

"We urge all members of Congress to push federal policies to better support family well-being and spread the practice of trauma-informed approaches and two-generation treatment and supports as part of the federal response to the opioid crisis," she concluded.

More articles on opioids: 

Cryptomarket opioid sales increased after DEA tightened prescribing regulations
Kentucky sues Walgreens over 'alarming' opioid dispense rate
Study: New York physicians received $3.5M from opioid makers between 2013-15

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