According to the CDC, Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years) such as:
- experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect;
- witnessing violence in the home;
- having a family member attempt or die by suicide;
- growing up in a household with substance misuse, mental health problems,
- or instability due to parental separation or incarceration of a parent, sibling or other member of the household.
Traumatic events in childhood can be emotionally painful or distressing and can have effects that persist for years.
Factors such as the 1) nature, 2) frequency and 3) seriousness of the traumatic event, 4) prior history of trauma, and 5) available family and community supports can shape a child’s response to trauma.
An estimated 62% of adults surveyed across 23 states reported that they had experienced one ACE during childhood and nearly one-quarter reported that they had experienced three or more ACEs.
ACEs can have negative, lasting effects on health, wellbeing, and opportunity. These exposures can disrupt healthy brain development, affect social development, compromise immune systems, and can lead to substance misuse and other unhealthy coping behaviors.
The evidence confirms that these exposures increase the risks of 1) injury, 2) sexually transmitted infections, 3) including HIV, 4) mental health problems, 5) maternal and child health problems, 6) teen pregnancy, 7) involvement in sex trafficking, 8) a wide range of chronic diseases and the leading causes of death such as 9) cancer, 10) diabetes, 11) heart 12) disease, and 13) suicide.
ACEs can also negatively impact education, employment, and earnings potential. The total economic and social costs to families, communities, and society is in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Clear Mind Treatment has an ACES, Trauma, and PTSD track that can help people suffering from ACES.
Please contact us if you need more info about ACES and what our program is like.
How ACEs Influence Health and Opportunity
The childhood years, from the prenatal period to late adolescence, are the “building block” years that help set the stage for adult relationships, behaviors, health, and social outcomes. ACEs and associated conditions such as living in under- resourced or racially segregated neighborhoods, frequently moving, experiencing food insecurity, and other instability can cause toxic stress (i.e., prolonged activation of the stress-response system4). Some children may face further exposure to toxic stress from historical and ongoing traumas due to systemic racism or the impacts of multigenerational poverty resulting from limited educational and economic opportunities.
A large and growing body of research indicates that toxic stress during childhood can harm the most basic levels of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems, and that such exposures can even alter the physical structure of DNA (epigenetic effects). Changes to the brain from toxic stress can affect such things as attention, impulsive behavior, decision-making, learning, emotion, and response to stress.5 Absent factors that can prevent or reduce toxic stress, children growing up under these conditions often struggle to learn and complete schooling. They are at increased risk of becoming involved in crime and violence,23,24 using alcohol or drugs,6,7 and engaging in other health-risk behaviors (e.g., early initiation of sexual activity; unprotected sex; and suicide attempts). They are susceptible to disease, illness, and mental health challenges over their lifetime. Children growing up with toxic stress may have difficulty forming healthy and stable relationships. They may also have unstable work histories as adults and struggle with finances, family, jobs, and depression throughout life—the effects of which can be passed on to their own children.