Adverse Childhood Experiences: Risk Factors for Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Uploaded by CAPTONLINE on 16.11.2012

What the ACE study did is it sought to take a look at how childhood
experiences influence neurodevelopment,
the adoption of health risk behaviors, and risk factors for preventable diseases.
We looked at ten categories of adverse childhood experience.
We looked at abuse --
physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Childhood neglect that included physical and emotional neglect.
And what we call household dysfunction, which was growing up
in households where there's mentally-ill caregivers or mentally
ill people in the home.
Household substance abuse.
Domestic violence, parental separation, divorce, or criminal behavior in the house.
So those are the ten categories of experiences that we call adversity.
And what we found when we studied them was that they're really common.
And the second thing we found is that when there is one of those types of
experiences in the life of the child, then there tends to be multiple others. So they're common.
They're highly interrelated. They co-occur.
And the third thing that we found is if you add up the number of categories
of experience, that there is this cumulative impact of the experiences on
the risk of public health problems.
Many of the leading causes of death in the United States
are somehow associated with ACEs. Things like stroke,
diabetes, risk factors for HIV/AIDS,
cancers and behaviors that lead to those.
We found that people who have high levels of adversity in their lives tend to
die younger. So it causes premature mortality.
And in terms of morbidity, probably the greatest impact on morbidity
is in the area of substance abuse and mental health.
I think it's very safe to say that ACEs
are a leading cause of both mental health and substance abuse.
And everywhere this has been studied there's this very powerful
relationship between childhood adversity
and mental health problems of various sorts and substance abuse
problems of various sorts.
At this point in time, the way that states can use the ACEs surveillance data, I think,
is to point out that these problems, the mental health and substance
abuse problems that are so prevalent,
are largely preventable.
That they're not necessarily destiny or genetics. They have genetic components,
but many of those problems are very experientially oriented.
That the traumatic stress of abuse and neglect
and other ACEs affect neurodevelopment in a way
that leads to a mental health and substance abuse problem. So I think
the major thing is to say that much of what happens in mental
health and substance abuse can be prevented if we can reduce the level of
stress in children's lives.