In a recent blog post, I talked about trauma and the impact it can have on the development of addiction to drugs and alcohol.
In this post, I write briefly about the relationship between our emotional experiences as children and our physical and mental health as adults. The pioneering research focusing on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) was conducted by Dr. Vincent Felitti and his colleagues in the US in the 1990s. You can find an interesting article about this early ACEs research here, and an informative one on later developments here. Research on ACEs has now been conducted around the world.
There are ten types of ACEs: physical abuse; sexual abuse; psychological abuse; physical neglect; psychological neglect; witnessing domestic abuse; having a close family member with a drug or alcohol related problem; having a close family member with a mental health problem; having a close family member serving a prison term, and parental separation or divorce.
We now know that adverse experiences in childhood can impact powerfully on a person’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing many years later. In the seven-minute long video below, Dr. Felitti details the connection between childhood trauma and negative health outcomes in adulthood.
‘… with a so-called ACE score of six, experiencing any six of the ten categories we studied, that person was 4,600% more likely to become an IV drug user than a person who had experienced none of those ten categories.
… you read in the newspaper the latest cancer scare of the week, prostate cancer or breast cancer increases 30% and everyone goes nuts. I’m talking 4,600% increase.
The same ACE score of six produces a likelihood of attempting suicide that is between 3,100 and 5,000% greater than the likelihood of suicide attempts in someone with none of those life experiences.’
Marcus Fair and his colleagues at Eternal Media, one of the recovery communities we have highlighted on Recovery Voices, have made a powerful series of films on ACEs that you can view on Vimeo, either as a single composite film or the four individual films.