adverse-childhood-experiences-and-addiction

Adverse Childhood Experiences And Addiction

The research is clear. Childhood trauma, sometimes called Adverse Childhood Experience or ACE’s, make it more likely for someone to become addicted to drugs or alcohol later in life. According to a study published in Frontiers In Psychiatry in 2022, “Individuals with ACE scores ≥5 are seven to 10 times more likely to report illicit drug addiction compared to those without ACEs, and are four to 12 times more likely to become drug abusers. In short, ACEs not only affect physical and mental health but also increase the risk of drug abuse in adulthood.” 

Adverse Childhood Experiences Contribute To Addiction

The research is clear. Childhood trauma, sometimes called Adverse Childhood Experience or ACE’s, make it more likely for someone to become addicted to drugs or alcohol later in life. According to a study published in Frontiers In Psychiatry in 2022, “Individuals with ACE scores ≥5 are seven to 10 times more likely to report illicit drug addiction compared to those without ACEs, and are four to 12 times more likely to become drug abusers. In short, ACEs not only affect physical and mental health but also increase the risk of drug abuse in adulthood.” 

Although not all people who experience Adverse Childhood Experiences become addicts, and not all addicts have had Adverse Childhood Experiences, the two are intertwined. One of the principles of dealing with drug addiction are dealing with the underlying factors that act as triggers for the addiction. One of the most important is ACE’s or childhood trauma. Any qualified drug addiction program will offer methods of dealing with these traumatic experiences on an addict’s path to healing. 

So what are Adverse Childhood Experiences? What are their symptoms? How are these experiences treated, and how is addiction treated in those with ACE’s? The answers to these questions are spelled out below, but we want to remind people: ACE’s as well as addiction are absolutely treatable, and we can help. 

What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences? 

Also synonymous with childhood trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences can include things like neglect, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. These are the most common, and can often have the most detrimental effect on the sufferer as an adult. These are often problems that need to be worked out with a professional as an adult to make work, romantic, and family relationships the most fulfilling. 

But ACE’s can also include things outside of these experiences that are traumatic to the individual, such as witnessing a natural disaster at a young age, or being witness to or the victim of violence in one’s neighborhood, for example. While the most common ACE’s fall into the category of neglect and abuse, one can grow up in a loving household and still experience trauma that can shade the adult.  

Symptoms of Adverse Childhood Experiences In Adults

Symptoms of ACE’s and trauma often show up in adults as various problems in relationships. When the primary relationship when the child was learning about life was untrustworthy, caused harm, left the sufferer with feelings of worthlessness and low self esteem, these things can impact relationships in the future. 

Consider it: when one is learning how the world works, especially from those who are closest to them, and that amounts to abuse and neglect, it can be hard to trust people in the future. It can be hard to get close to someone new if in the past those closest caused harm. It can be difficult to learn healthy coping mechanisms when unhealthy coping mechanisms were taught from a young age. These things all need to be relearned.  

They can also be factors in drug and alcohol abuse. When one is learning about the world and they see parents and primary caregivers using drugs or alcohol for relief or escape, they can learn this (unhealthy) coping mechanism themselves, and use these substances as escape from difficult lives. 

Treating Addiction In Those Who Have Had ACE’s

Addiction treatment always seeks to heal the underlying issues that are acting as factors in addiction. One of these issues, and a very important one, is dealing with childhood trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences. Rehabilitation is not just about treating the physical effects of drug addiction, but treating the underlying issues. 

Childhood trauma is most often dealt with with talk therapy, both individual and group. There are a whole host of methods that can be used to attempt to try and work through this trauma, including Cognitive or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. These therapies can be quite effective in both treating addiction as well as treating underlying issues like ACE’s. 

There are also psychoactive drugs that can help deal with the symptoms as well, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and the like.  

Help for Trauma and ACE’s is Available

As always, addition is a treatable disease. It is a disease, and it is treatable. This treatment almost always involves wrestling with underlying factors like Adverse Childhood Experiences in concert with the actual addiction itself. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing an addiction, we’re always here to help and just a call away at (844) 973-2611

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