Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are negative experiences that happen during childhood. They are divided into three categories: abuse, household challenges and neglect. Even though children are resilient, ACEs can disrupt a child’s development and increase the risk for social, emotional and cognitive impairment in adulthood.
Largest Study of its Kind: Kaiser ACE Study
The idea came from the 1995-1997 CDC-Kaiser ACE Study, which analyzed childhood experiences of over 17,000 people. A physical assessment was also done on these individuals. The data found that ACEs are common across all populations. However, the more Adverse Childhood Experiences a child is exposed to, the more likely they are to suffer from alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, depression and other chronic health conditions.
Here is a breakdown of the various ACEs, categorized by abuse, household challenges and neglect.
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Household Challenges
- Mother treated violently
- Substance abuse in the household
- Mental illness in the household
- Parental separation or divorce
- Incarcerated household member
- Emotional neglect
- Physical neglect
Sadly, the study found that people with six or more Adverse Childhood Experiences died 20 years earlier on average than individuals without ACEs. Knowing how influential ACEs are to a person’s life, it’s important to understand how they can be prevented.
Can We Prevent ACEs?
ACEs can affect people from all walks of life. The key is minimizing ACEs and providing young children with safe, stable, loving homes. This could be as simple as getting help for someone in the family with drug addiction or mental illness. However, recognizing the signs of abuse and intervening with professional services could be much more challenging.
Here are some ways to prevent ACEs:
- Mental illness and substance abuse treatment
- Home visiting programs for women who are pregnant or have newborns
- Social support for parents and low-income families
- Parenting training programs
- Intimate partner violence prevention
- Parent support programs for teens
- Teen pregnancy prevention programs
- Child care services
Healing from ACEs in Adulthood
It’s clear that there is a connection between childhood trauma and later-life health and well-being. When people start treatment at Awakenings Treatment Center, our goal is to uncover the underlying reasons for substance abuse, eating disorder or mental illness. Through therapy, many of our clients can identify previous ACEs that affect them in adulthood.
Our goal is to process Adverse Childhood Experiences and work through them in a healthy manner, so that healing can begin. We can also help clients get their lives on track through treatment and alternative therapies, so that the cycle does not continue for their own children. To learn more about the treatment services offered at Awakenings Treatment Center, contact us today.