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Consequences of Adverse Childhood Experiences

man discusses adverse childhood experiences with therapist

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are events that occur during childhood that increase an individual’s vulnerability to a variety of negative health consequences, as well as their potential for future victimization.  By understanding the many factors that lead to common ACEs, we can better protect children from a public health perspective. Aside from the obvious need to increase the quality of life for children in our society, it is also important to have enough foresight to anticipate that traumatized children often become mentally and emotionally unwell adults.  People with a history of ACEs are more likely to become victims of assault, perpetrators of violence, and substance abusers. ACEs also affect educational outcomes and heighten vulnerability to disease.

Altered Brain Development 

ACEs can include childhood neglect, abuse, violent environmental factors, and the loss of a caregiver.  These experiences often go beyond the initial emotional damage, stunting brain development at an early age.  Children’s brains are especially vulnerable to the aftermath of trauma, meaning that an adverse experience can create cognitive impairment and mental health issues.  These neurological changes may affect decision-making abilities, and lead to risky behaviors later in life. High-risk behaviors may include drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected sex, and criminal activity.

Passing Down Trauma

ACEs are often the first domino to fall in a long line of adverse life events.  A neglected child may fall behind in school, dropout, experience teen pregnancy, become addicted to alcohol or drugs and go on to neglect their own children, therefore perpetuating the cycle.  The CDC recognizes the existence of ACEs as a relevant cause for concern regarding American health outcomes and promotes strategies for preventing childhood trauma, as well as addressing ACEs that have already occurred. With the right foundation for mental wellness and quality treatment for addictions, people with a high ACE score, indicating their vulnerability to various undesirable outcomes, can go on to create healthy, successful lives.  

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.