Adverse childhood experiences and later-life depression

The aim of this study was to investigate associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and later-life depressive symptoms; and to explore whether perceived social support (PSS) moderates these | BMJ Open

ACEs are common among older adults in Ireland and are associated with higher odds of later-life depressive symptoms, particularly among those with poor PSS. Interventions that enhance social support, or possibly perceptions of social support, may help reduce the burden of depression in older populations with ACE exposure, particularly in those reporting abuse.

Full reference: Cheong, E.V. et al. (2017) Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and later-life depression: perceived social support as a potential protective factor. BMJ Open. 7:e013228


Childhood adversity, substance misuse and young people’s mental health

Substance misuse can significantly impact people’s capacity to parent, which can create an intergenerational cycle of violence, with these children being more likely to expose their own children to adversity and trauma | AddAction and Young Minds

Image source: AddAction

Public misconceptions about both the prevalence of young people’s use of substances, and their motivation for using them, are compounded by sensationalist accounts of drug use in the popular media. This media coverage frequently draws attention away from the fact that substance use amongst young people has been broadly in decline since 2001.

Despite the high profile of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)ii in recent years, alcohol and cannabis remain the most commonly used substances amongst adolescents.

Every young person has their own story about what led them to try a particular substance. For many, they do so having already researched the potential risks involved, aiming to manage their usage so it remains as safe and enjoyable as possible. The vast majority of young people’s substance use is either experimental or recreational, and most people are capable of managing their intake of legal and/or illicit substances so that any unwanted consequences are minimised.

View the full report here


Social Media and Substance Use: What Should We Be Recommending to Teens and Their Parents?

With social media increasingly integrated into the lives of today’s teenagers, there are two urgent needs: for further research on online exposure to substance use and for clear recommendations to mental health practitioners, adolescents, and parents about the need to assess and monitor teens’ online exposure to substance use | Journal of Adolescent Health
Image source: Roey Ahram – Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Teens and Social Media

In 2015, 92% of teens aged 13 to 17 years reported going online daily, 24% were online “almost constantly,” and 71% used more than one social networking sit. Social media use is associated with mental health problems including depression, sleep disturbance, and eating concerns among young people. Social media perpetuates social comparison in a world where everything is curated, which is particularly problematic for teens who may be more prone to depressive cognitions in the face of such social comparison.

Social Media and Substance Use

Substance use is rampant and often glorified by celebrities and others on social media. There have been reports of social media being used as a strategy for selling drugs, with hashtags facilitating the process of pairing buyers with sellers. Tobacco, electronic cigarette, and alcohol industries have widely integrated social media platforms into marketing strategies that are fully accessible to teens. In this way social media has opened up doors for these industries to market to youth even when direct marketing to minors is against the law or supposed to be internally regulated. The burgeoning cannabis industry is opening up even more opportunities for teens to have exposure to advertising through social media. Exposure to substance use imagery is associated with subsequent onset in use, which is why drinking alcohol and using drugs in movies warrants an R rating. Social media is harder to regulate.

Full reference: Costello, C.R. & Ramo, D.E. (2017) Social Media and Substance Use: What Should We Be Recommending to Teens and Their Parents? Journal of Adolescent Health. 60(6) pp. 629–630

Bullying’s lasting impact

A new study found that kids who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to suffer from depression in seventh grade; and have a greater likelihood of using alcohol, marijuana or tobacco in tenth grade | ScienceDaily

legs-407196_960_720Although peer victimization is common during late childhood and early adolescence and appears to be associated with increased substance use, few studies have examined these associations longitudinally — meaning that data is gathered from the same subjects repeatedly over several years — or point to the psychological processes whereby peer victimization leads to substance use.

“We show that peer victimization in fifth grade has lasting effects on substance use five years later. We also show that depressive symptoms help to explain why peer victimization is associated with substance use, suggesting that youth may be self-medicating by using substances to relieve these negative emotions,” Earnshaw said.

Read the full overview via ScienceDaily here

The original research abstract is available here

Substance use, subjective well-being and interpersonal relationships among young people in foster care and private households

Long S.J. et al. (2017) BMJ Open. 7:e014198


Objective: To investigate the association of living in foster care (FC) with substance use and subjective well-being in a sample of secondary school students (11–16 years) in Wales in 2015/16, and to examine whether these associations are attenuated by the perceived quality of interpersonal relationships.

Conclusions: Young people living in FC experience significantly worse outcomes than young people not in care, likely due to a range of care and precare factors, which impact adversely on subsequent social relationships. The analyses are consistent with the hypothesis that the associations of FC with substance use and life satisfaction are partially explained by poorer quality social relationships. Large scale, longitudinal studies are required to investigate the relationship between being in care and health, educational and social outcomes. Mental health interventions and interventions to reduce substance use and improve well-being in FC should include a focus on supporting healthy social relationships.

Read the full article here

Specialist substance misuse services for young people

A rapid mixed methods evidence review of current provision and key principles for commissioning

Public Health England (PHE) commissioned The Children’s Society to undertake scoping research in early 2016, to understand some of the opportunities and challenges currently facing those now responsible for commissioning and delivering young people’s specialist substance misuse services and to outline some critical good practice principles.

Four main commissioning principles have been developed for the commissioning and provision of specialist substance misuse provision for young people, based on the findings, research and evidence based guidelines.

This document is designed to provide prompts around some core principles for consideration when local authorities are commissioning specialist substance misuse provision, but is not intended to be a comprehensive commissioning guide.

Full review available here

Children who witness violence or are sexually abused are more likely to inject drugs as adults

ScienceDaily | Published online: 2 November 2016


Researchers from NYU School of Medicine and The Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research used a nationally representative sample of more than 12,000 Americans to explore associations between nine childhood traumas and adult drug use. Additionally: the association between sexual abuse during childhood and injection drug use was more than seven times as strong for males as females.

“Screening for and addressing childhood trauma may be an important strategy to prevent initiation of drug use,” said lead researcher Kelly Quinn, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine’s Department of Population Health. “And for drug users, trauma-informed interventions throughout the life course are important for treatment and mitigation of relapse.”

Additionally, data found that neglect, emotional abuse, parental incarceration and parental binge drinking were associated with 25-55 percent increased odds of prescription pain reliever misuse.

Read the full research overview here