"People who have had an ACE score are
two to four times
more likely to start using
or drugs at an early age, compared to those without an ACE score. People with an ACE score of
5 or higher
more likely to experience addiction compared with people who haven’t experienced childhood trauma
There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting this notion: the majority of people currently experiencing mental health or addiction problems have a history of adverse childhood experiences. That’s not to say that all children who experience trauma will go on to have a substance use disorder, because there are a lot of other factors at play, but it is a nearly-necessary component of a person’s history that requires serious consideration in treatment.
We need to focus on providing resources to the people at greatest risk and making sure those resources go into programs that reduce or mitigate adversity.
Dr. Daniel Sumrock says we can do these things to help people change addiction by:
- Address a person’s unresolved childhood trauma through individual and/ or group therapy
- Treat people with compassion and respect
- Use harm minimization principles such as providing medication treatments for addiction
- Help people with an addiction find a ‘ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking behavior’ that is less harmful to their health.
Recovery programs should take ACEs into account, getting to the "why" of the addiction, not just putting a Band-Aid on the compulsive seeking symptom."