Childhood trauma can make people like morphine more

26 Aug 2021

People who experienced childhood trauma get a more pleasurable ‘high’ from morphine, new research suggests.

Dr Molly Carlyle from The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology said high rates of childhood trauma have been identified in people with addictions, but little research has explored the mechanisms that underlie this link.

“Our findings show these sorts of experiences can actually change how certain drugs feel," Dr Carlyle said.

“Those with childhood trauma preferred the opioid drug morphine and they felt more euphoric and had a stronger desire for another dose.

“Those with no childhood trauma were more likely to dislike the effects and feel dizzy or nauseous.

"This is the first study to link childhood trauma with the effects of opioids in people without histories of addiction, suggesting that childhood trauma may lead to a greater sensitivity to the positive and pleasurable effects of opioids."

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Dr Molly Carlyle conducted this research as part of her PhD at the University of Exeter and is now a Research Fellow for UQ’s School of Psychology.

The University of Queensland and the University of Exeter have partnered to establish the QUEX Institute — an initiative designed to bolster our joint global research impact. QUEX Institute