Connections Between Overdose and Childhood Injury

Something that I have been wanting to talk about for a long time on this blog is the prevalence of childhood trauma in the histories of people with substance use disorder. There are a couple of different angles that I want to look at this problem from over the next week, including the prevalence of childhood trauma experiences that people do not realize are influencing their adult lives. Today I want to talk about the connection between childhood trauma, substance use disorder, and cases of drug and alcohol overdose. I am writing about this today as Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center in Panama City Florida, one of the best drug and alcohol rehabs in Florida, is continuing to see increased numbers of substance use disorder patients seeking help, and there is no doubt that many of those patients will likely disclose experiences of childhood trauma.

Can an Accident Make You More Likely to Overdose?

In the study I am looking at today, the specific trauma that is being studied in childhood is serious bodily injury from an accident. The authors note that although primary care physicians have become more careful about freely prescribing opiate medications, those same opiate medications are still readily prescribed by other types of outpatient medical service providers. In these cases, we are talking about the dispensation of opioid medications to young people who have sustained a bodily injury. The study wanted to find out if a connection existed between getting opioids for these accidents at a young age and substance use disorder, either drug addiction or alcoholism. They also wanted to study the connection between these childhood injuries and instances of overdose that happen years after the initial injury. One particularly important statistic to be aware of is that 1 in 10 adolescents in the studied group experienced a drug overdose later in life. In cases like that, the researchers intended to find out if those patients were more likely to overdose if they had been given a prescription for opioid medication at the time of their childhood injury.

The conclusions made in this important study are not necessarily shocking to those people who are familiar with the scope of these issues, but they are rather dramatic findings. Prescriptions for opioid medications caused increased risk of overdose years down the line for adolescent patients who are given those prescriptions. The same practice of prescribing opioids in those cases also greatly increased the risk of the adolescents needing treatment for substance use disorder later in life. This is in line with the increase in patients we have steadily seen at places like Florida Springs in Panama City, Florida, which is one of the premier places to go for both drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, and I should note that they have both inpatient and outpatient treatment options.

The Statistics on Childhood Opioid Prescriptions

Some of the raw numbers produced by the study make the correlation even more clear. In the first few months after a young person is injured in an accident, every refill of an opioid medication makes that person more likely to overdose years down the line and more likely to suffer from substance use disorder. Of the nearly 1000 patients whose cases were studied, over 90% had information available on registries that track prescription medications. The actual increase in likelihood of an overdose from each refill of a prescription averaged out to 55%. A young person was 55% more likely to have an overdose as an adult with each trip to the pharmacy to get a new opioid prescription filled, which is incredibly scary.

There were also major differences in the types of prescription use that lead to either overdose or substance use disorder diagnosis. Patients who filled opioid prescriptions only a few times over a short period of time after an injury were more likely to need treatment for substance use disorder. Patients who filled opioid medication prescriptions for a long period of time after an injury were much more likely to have an overdose later in life. It is not completely clear from a study like this what types of options are available to doctors who do not want to prescribe any opioid painkillers to young patients, but it is incredibly evident that we must be looking at all possible options to avoid this kind of pattern repeating for more young people. As always, this article is made possible because of the incredible dedication of the people at Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center, and they are the best option for drug and alcohol rehab in Panama City, Florida. If you or a loved one needs more information, the phone number for Florida Springs and much more information on how to find help is available on this website.

By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at

BELL, T. M. et al. Outpatient Opioid Prescriptions are Associated with Future Substance use Disorders and Overdose Following Adolescent Trauma. Annals of surgery, [s. l.], 2021. DOI 10.1097/SLA.0000000000004769. Disponível em: Acesso em: 3 mar. 2021.