ARG scientist Nina Mulia’s new project seeks to investigate the long-term effects of early childhood adversity on educational success and substance use, from birth though young adulthood.
Previous, and extensive, studies have found a link between education and substance use problems. However, understanding what the causal mechanisms are is limited.
Some researchers hypothesize that early life factors may play a role. There is also growing evidence that suggests a child’s behavioral and socioemotional devleopment may be profoundly impacted by early childhood adversity and “toxic stress”. Such factors may inform a child’s school experiences, educational achievement and lifecourse health, including substance use.
To address this gap in the research, this study will include a comprehensive investigation of the long-term effects of early childhood adversity on educational success and substance use outcomes from birth through young adulthood. It aims to identify modifiable, education-related factors at multiple levels (school, family, individual) that can mitigate negative effects of early adversity. Study results will help inform programmatic development and policy efforts aimed at reducing substance use problems and related health disparities.
Importantly, the project also aims to identify education resilience factors from early childhood through late adolescence that can mitigate or disrupt the effects of early childhood adversity on substance abuse.
Given existing educational inequalities, racial/ethnic differences in chronic stress and cumulative disadvantage, and disparities in adult substance use problems, the study will further investigate racial/ethnic differences in the consequences of early childhood adversity and in the protective effects of education resilience factors.