Some opioid drugs such as morphine are used as pain killers during the treatment of cancer, heart attack, or a severe injury. A recent study suggests that adults who suffer from trauma in their childhood have increased sensitivity to morphine. Also, they experience more pleasure with this drug as compared to those who do not have a history of childhood trauma.
The research was published recently in the journal Addiction Biology.
The scientist from the University of Exeter conducted this study involving 52 participants with no underlying health conditions. Nearly half of the participants (27 individuals) experienced trauma in their childhood while the other 25 participants lived the early years of their life normally.
The study found that those who experienced childhood trauma enjoyed the dose of morphine. They also craved for more after the first dose. On the contrary, the other group did not like the drug as they experienced nausea and dizziness after taking a dose of morphine.
The lead author of this study, Dr. Molly Carlyle said that numerous cases of childhood trauma often end up with drug addiction. This recent study shows that their past experience changes how the body reacts to the opioid drugs. Dr. Carlyle also suggested that this is the first study of its kind that shows the link between childhood trauma and the response to opioids in adults who do not have any addiction to a drug.
The research shows that the first group of individuals with childhood trauma experience more pleasurable and euphoric effects of the opioid. Also, they feel a good kind of high after taking the dose. The researchers suggest that this response to opioids may be due to the different development of the endogenous opioid system of the body. This is the pain-relieving system that shows sensitivity to endorphins, the natural pain-relieving chemical produced in the body.
According to Dr. Carlyl, traumatic experiences in childhood can increase sensitivity to opioids. The researchers explained that the comfort from parents and guardians during childhood stimulates the release of endorphins in the body. These chemicals release when a baby cries and an elder comforts them or when they experience a loving interaction. Meanwhile, some children do not experience the same comfort and their body becomes sensitive to pain relievers over time.
Professor Celia Morgan from the University of Exeter led this research group. She mentioned that the results of this study may help reduce the stigma among those people who use heroin. Even though most of the people who develop drug addiction have a history of childhood trauma, many people believe that the addiction is due to a lack of self-control. Hence, this study may help support those who battle with drug addiction. It can also help increase the compassion among the society for these individuals.
The researchers measured the effect of morphine on the participants by asking them the same questions after different intervals. They also measured the pain threshold in the participants by placing their hands in ice-cold water. The results showed that the pain threshold was more or less the same among both groups.
The findings of this research show that people who experience childhood trauma have a natural sensitivity to opioid drugs. This research can also help better understand drug addiction among such people. Also, it shed light on the response of different people to opioids.