Breaking the Cycle: An Exploration of the Connection Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Substance Misuse




Hertel, Mary

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Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a set of experiences that can occur in a child’s life that can cause trauma and long-term health impacts. ACEs have been associated with altered brain function, heart disease, obesity, depression, anxiety, substance misuse, risky sexual practices, and short life expectancy. There is a close causal link and cyclical nature between ACEs and substance misuse. ACEs increase the risk of substance misuse later in life, living in a household in which a member misuses substances is an ACE, and there is a high risk of parent-child substance misuse transmission. All of which creates a cyclical problem cyclical that needs to be addressed by both micro and macro interventions. Micro interventions include parenting programs, promoting positive childhood experiences in the home, and implementing trauma-informed care into treatments. Macro interventions include widespread supplemental childcare systems, community connection, spreading awareness, enacting policies that address the lack of access to necessities, and abolishing policies that actively harm and contribute to adverse childhood experiences.



Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), Substance Misuse, Toxic Stress, Parent-Child Transmission of Substance Misuse, Mitigation, Impacts of Trauma, Parental Role in Substance Misuse, Positive Childhood Experience (PCE)