cumulative effect, substance addiction, theory of cumulative inequality, trauma theory, trauma-informed care in addiction treatment


Research indicates that the likelihood of developing addiction increases with the number of adverse childhood experiences [ACE]. ACE are common precursors to early initiation of psychoactive substance use [PAS], significantly increasing the risk of substance abuse and faster progression to substance addiction [SA]. ACE are associated with a more severe course of addiction, poorer treatment outcomes, and higher rates of relapse after treatment completion. The aim of this paper is to elucidate the link between ACE and the development of psychoactive substance dependence during adulthood, through the method of analysis and synthesis of empirical and theoretical research. The theoretical framework of the paper is based on the theories of cumulative inequality and trauma, which provide overarching postulates for interpreting the link between childhood adversity and SA, and offer conceptual insights into understanding the detrimental effects of ACE on the biopsychosocial development of individuals. This approach challenges the traditional notions of addiction as a “personal choice”, “moral irresponsibility”, “circumstantial coincidence”, or “genetic predisposition”. The paper provides guidelines that emphasise the need for an integrative approach in addressing trauma and addiction, as well as a holistic approach to individuals undergoing addiction treatment.


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Author Biographies

Dragica Bogetić, Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation, Belgrade 3 Ministry of the Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia




Aleksandar Jugović, Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation, Belgrade 3 Ministry of the Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia



Boro Merdović, Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Police Department for the City of Belgrade




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