Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Monday, 7 January 2013

Members' business: The origins of addiction

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said he was "keen to highlight an issue never before debated in the Scottish Parliament" as he led a member's debate on the origins of addiction on 8 January 2013.

Mr Gibson highlighted the Adverse Childhood Experience study, The Origins of Addictions, which bridges a relationship between adverse childhood experiences, including childhood sexual abuse, and the development of addiction problems in later life.

He said that "addictions can be defined as persistent, compulsive dependence towards a behaviour or substance".

The Cunninghame North MSP said that 49% of patients receiving counselling had suffered from childhood sexual abuse according to recent audit of the Addictions Psychology Caseload by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

He said that it was "imperative to investigate the source of an individuals addictions".

He also said that addiction services and psychological support would treat addiction more effectively as an experience-dependent and not just a substance-dependent condition.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said that "the origins of addictions report raises a number of very complex issues".

Mr Matheson said that "children have the right to be cared for and protected from harm".

He also said "we are taking action to ensure that child sexual exploitation in Scotland is detected, dealt with and ultimately prevented".

Mr Gibson understands that the American study analysed 17,000 adults and discovered that the compulsive use of nicotine, alcohol and injected street drugs increased proportionally to the intensity of adverse life experiences during childhood, whereby the risk of becoming an injected drug user increased as much as 46-fold when compared with no exposure to adverse experience.

He says the significance of the Addictions Psychology Audit by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which found that 49% of patients receiving counselling had suffered from childhood sexual abuse.

The MSP acknowledges the dependency on addictions for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, in which resorting to drugs or alcohol often allows survivors to escape from the horrific and traumatic memories and flashbacks.

He believes that addiction services and psychological support would treat addiction more effectively as an experience-dependent and not just a substance-dependent condition.

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