Exposure to childhood trauma increases risk of addiction & mental illness by four times: NDARC’s research grabs the media headlines in the US

July 2014

National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) researcher Emma Barrett was selected by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) for its inaugural media conference to promote its Annual Meeting held in Puerto Rico in June. Dr Barrett, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, presented her findings from her investigation into the mental health and substance use consequences of childhood trauma. Dr Barrett and colleagues’ analysis of data from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that exposure to trauma before the age of 17 increases the chances of experiencing a mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction as an adult by nearly four times. The risk of attempting suicide increases by seven times compared with people not exposed to trauma. 

Dr Barrett joined nine leading addiction researchers from the US in presenting her findings to the media and was the only researcher from outside of the US chosen to present to the media.

NDARC academics Associate Professor Katherine Mills, Associate Professor Lucy Burns and Dr Christina Marel presented papers at the meeting.