In a recent article in ACES Connection by Jane Stevens recent research has shown a direct correlation between ACE Scores and relapse by those who are addicted to opioids. We recognize that individuals with high Adverse Childhood Experience scores are more prone to a host of life problems that are both physical and emotional. One of the other statistics that is compelling is that individuals with high ACE scores have higher incidences of drug and alcohol addictions.
This recent research has shown the significance of ACEs and ACEs-science-informed treatment: Each additional type of Adverse Childhood Experience increases a person’s risk of relapse during medication-assisted opioid treatment by a whopping 17 percent. And each visit to a clinic that integrates trauma-informed practices based on ACEs science reduces the relapse rate by two percent, which can carry a person perhaps not to zero, but to a minimal risk of relapse.
Dr. Karen Derefinko, lead author and assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center states, “I think this is the first research to connect ACES to relapse.
The research published in Addictive Behaviors focused on people who were opioid patients in the clinic of Dr. Daniel Sumrok, in McKenzie, Tenn. His simple, but revolutionary approach to treating opioid use disorder includes medication-assisted treatment (buprenorphine), group therapy, educating people about their ACEs and ACEs science, treating people with respect instead of blaming or shaming them, listening intently to what they say, and integrating the healing traditions of the culture in which they live.
He concludes that his treatment is treating ACES and not drugs. As we know from other research on drug addictions and opioids there is a significant link to trauma. In fact he states: “You’re treating trauma, not addiction.”
As we consider how to mitigate the national crisis in opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths in our country we must acknowledge that if we do not address ACES and trauma we will not be successful in treating those who have become addicted. Secondly, the more we understand the ACEs research, the more we understand that trauma-informed care is essential to the way we treat addictions, since trauma is at the root of our addictions epidemic.
This research and article is significant in its ramifications and applications to the treatment of drug addictions. Here is the link to this compelling article.