AMECA Symposium Examines Links Between Psychological Trauma, Early Life Adversity, and Addiction
A symposium organized by the Africa and the Middle East Congress on Addiction (AMECA) focused on the impact of exposure to psychological trauma and early life adversity on addictive and related mental health disorders. The symposium also reported on the role of social environmental factors in promoting resiliency and brain plasticity. The meeting was held in Entebbe, Uganda, on June 14, 2017, in collaboration with the Society for Neuroscience in Africa. Mustafa al’Absi, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, chairs the AMECA steering committee and organized the meeting with Sana Mhamdi, M.D., M.P.H., University of Monastir, Tunisia. Presenters included experts from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda; University of Konstanz, Germany; and Linnaeus University, Sweden. Presenters reviewed recent research programs in Africa and the Middle East examining exposure to the psychological trauma and hardships related to natural disasters, wars, and early life adversities that increases risk for mental and addictive disorders. Presenters also examined behavioral and psychological manifestations of exposure to psychological trauma and early life adversity; discussed clinical and preclinical data; reviewed social, behavioral, and neurobiological factors that promote resiliency; and introduced a proposed model for social and environmental enrichment to help promote resiliency. The symposium is part of a series of scientific functions AMECA is organizing. Additional symposia are being organized in collaboration with the International Society for Addiction Medicine Annual Meeting, which will be held October 26–29, 2017, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.