Adverse Childhood Experiences Linked to Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Childhood trauma is significantly linked with high risks for alcohol and drug abuse in adulthood, according to a research study. “ACE” is an acronym for “Adverse Childhood Experiences,” a concept that was developed by the CDC Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study originally conducted from 1995 to 1997. Traumatic experiences are measured by the number of events that happen in one’s life. These events may include the following:

• neglect
• physical, emotional and sexual abuse
• a parent with a mental illness
• being a victim of (or a witness to) violence in the home,
• divorce
• substance abuse within the home
• an incarcerated family member

In the aforementioned study, about 9,000 adults took a survey to determine their ACE score, and
the findings revealed that children who were raised in alcoholic households were significantly
more likely to have higher ACE scores.

Effects of High Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Scores in Adults

With high ACE (adverse childhood experiences) scores, adults are likely to develop poor coping mechanisms in the face of stress. If you grew up with a family member who struggled with alcoholism or some form of substance abuse, you may have experienced the following scenarios:

Difficulty with self-expression

In families where alcoholism is present, communication doesn’t take place very often due to secrets, which breed a lot of shame. Shut-down in communication leads to disconnection with family members, oneself and the outside world. One of the most important skills in any successful relationship is communication, so when that skill is not developed throughout childhood and adolescence, it’s no wonder why the adult will experience lack of success in relationships, personally or professionally.

Trouble with unpredictability

Adjusting to the changing sails of life proves extremely difficult because, for many people, consistency and routine are a “safe place” in the midst of chaos and turmoil. Unpredictable events can rattle one’s emotional foundation, triggering one’s anxiety and plunging one into depression, especially when solutions seem unobtainable (i.e., no family support in time of need). As a result of clinging to routine and predictability, one’s personality may appear rigid and lack spontaneity.

Lack of compassion toward self and others

Perfectionism and harsh self-criticism seem to go hand in hand. While perfectionism might work academically and professionally, it does not bode well for interpersonal skills. The harsh criticisms that a child grows up with continue to play like a broken record throughout adulthood. Without cognitive-behavioral intervention, it would be extremely hard for adults to be aware of what is going on subconsciously. Perfectionists are hard on themselves when they make a mistake; they feel like utter failures and because they are not able to have compassion on themselves. These self-deprecating thoughts and voices could lead to a life of self-destruction through substance abuse and destruction of important relationships with significant others because they are unable to have compassion for others when they fall short of expectations.

Trauma-Informed Care

Treating substance abuse addiction is not the only goal here at New Method Wellness. Digging beneath the surface and providing trauma-informed care for clients with moderate to high ACE (adverse childhood experiences) scores helps people get to the root of the problem so that clients don’t relapse into drug and alcohol abuse. Because many working adults are responsibly carrying on with their lives, they may not even be aware that they have a problem with alcohol abuse. However, they might feel off-kilter about something internally, which drives them to consume alcohol heavily on a regular basis. Nonetheless, many individuals might be in denial of their problem because it’s not interfering with their work.

If you suspect that a loved one might have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse, contact New Method Wellness at (866) 951-1824!

+1 (866) 951-1824