The Correlation Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Substance Use Disorder

The Correlation Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Substance Use Disorder

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We all know that there are certain things and experiences that happen in life that can make some people turn to drugs and alcohol, rather than healthier alternatives to deal with these problems. Adverse childhood experiences fall into that category. Since the issue has become so prevalent, more and more attention is being given to adverse childhood experiences and substance abuse disorder.

What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Any events that are traumatic to a child can be classified as childhood experiences. These can include:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Exposure to parental domestic violence
  • Parental divorce
  • A parent’s death

There are also stressful experiences like bullying or witnessing a violent event that can be considered adverse childhood experiences.

Some people who abuse drugs and alcohol have experienced one of these events, if not more.

How are Adverse Childhood Experiences Determined?

In order to determine if someone has had an adverse childhood experience, they will be asked a series of ten questions. The answer to these questions will determine their ACE score[1].

It’s believed that the higher a person scores, the greater the risk they have of developing substance use disorder or other health problems. But, a high ACE score does not mean someone will definitely end up abusing drugs and alcohol. There are those who receive therapy and the help they need immediately following a traumatic event. This can make a major difference in a person’s outcome.

What Do We Know About Adverse Childhood Experiences and Substance Abuse Disorder?

While experiencing something traumatic as a child is not a reason to abuse drugs or alcohol, studies have shown there is a link that cannot be ignored.

Researchers have found[2] that there is a real connection between substance use disorder and adverse childhood experiences. People who have had an adverse childhood experience are four times more likely to use drugs or alcohol at an early age compared to those who did not have an adverse childhood experience. People who had five or more adverse childhood experiences were ten times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

It’s important to note that just because a child experiences a traumatic event doesn’t mean that they will indeed abuse drugs or alcohol. It simply means that they are at a greater risk. There are other factors like education, income, and access to resources that can also play a role.

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How to Help People With Adverse Childhood Experiences and Substance Abuse

Once it’s determined that someone has had an adverse childhood experience or several, a specialized treatment program can be developed to help them deal with both issues. Many times the experiences that happened in childhood were never recognized or were ignored and never dealt with properly. This is can also contribute to addiction.

One of the important things to realize is that these patients need to be treated with compassion and respect. They most likely did not receive this as a child, so it’s important to let them know that they deserve to be treated better.

When someone is addicted to drugs and alcohol, the first step is admitting there is a problem. This is frequently the hardest thing to do. Once someone decides to enter a treatment program, the healing process can begin.

At Ocean Hills Recovery, a customized treatment plan will be made for you since each person’s addiction is different. Some patients must undergo a detox program first to rid their bodies of dangerous drugs and alcohol in their system. This is done under the supervision of a medical staff that can help should any issues arise.

Therapy is a big part of the recovery process. Through individual and group therapy sessions, patients can begin to understand the root of their addiction and more importantly what behaviors to avoid to prevent relapse. Patients will learn to open up about their addiction and gain strength and support from hearing other people’s stories. Knowing they’re not alone is comforting for many patients as they begin their treatment program. Many times adverse childhood experiences come up in therapy sessions and patients can finally learn how to deal with them in a positive way.

The road to sobriety takes different forms, but inpatient treatment is often recommended so that patients can have 24/7 support to battle their addiction. At Ocean Hills Recovery, there are 30, 60, and 90-day programs available, depending on the needs of the patient.

Once the program is complete, the team at Ocean Hills Recovery helps patients transition into the real world and battle the triggers of their addiction. Many times patients still return for outpatient therapy sessions.

If you’re ready to take the first step in conquering your addiction, call Ocean Hills Recovery today. Let us help you confront your adverse childhood experiences and substance abuse disorders so that you can live a sober and fulfilling life.




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