The Link Between Early Childhood Trauma and Future Addiction
Many studies have shown, the roots of addiction and substance abuse often reach much deeper than most people assume, with traumatic early childhood abuse and family dysfunction laying the foundation for more troubling behavior later in life.
Vincent J. Felitti, MD, head of preventive medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, has identified seven different categories of "adverse childhood experiences," including three categories of abuse and four categories of household dysfunction. The categories of abuse include verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. The categories of household dysfunction include the experience of living with a mentally ill family member.
For example, Jason was a 23-year-old with a bright future who turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with excessive childhood punishments and a scandalous break-up of his parent's marriage. Ben, 25, experienced a childhood filled with domestic violence, homelessness and isolation before eventually becoming a DXM addict. Lawrence, 34, was a successful owner of a chain of tanning salons who eventually turned to alcohol to dull the pain of emotional and physical abuse suffered in childhood.
This anecdotal evidence from "Intervention" is backed up by scientific and clinical studies showing that traumatic childhood experiences can lead to a higher risk of adult alcohol or substance addiction. Adult survivors of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse are not only at increased risk for addiction, but they are increasingly more likely to suffer from a host of physical and mental health disorders, including depression, heart disease and obesity.
Doctors already realize that trauma survivors frequently smoke, drink, and overeat as a way to cope with their emotional turmoil. Now they are finding that the cases of early trauma may stunt the development of children's brains, leaving these children increasingly vulnerable to physical and mental disorders later in life.
The bottom line: parents need to take greater care to shelter their children from the risk of traumatic childhood experiences. They also need to be more tuned in to the moods of their children from a younger age to look for warning signs and be willing to take responsibility for helping children cope with their problems at an early age, which sometimes could mean professional counseling or treatment.
Excerpted from: http://www.aetv.com/intervention/insights/index.jsp
Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children