A look at the news would tell anyone about the prominent, rampant and growing problem our country has with opioids.
But what does the opioid crisis have to do with trauma?
The misuse of opioids has become one of our most dominant drug problems and its reach has impacted children, families and communities all over America, in fact, all over the world.
We already know research has indicated a strong relationship between Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs) and opioids. That is, children who have had ACE events have a greater propensity to use opioids. So, measures in how we protect and care for our children must embrace the prevention (or the minimization of) opioid use.
Therefore, fundamentally, if we do not acknowledge the roots of addiction and work to provide funding and programs that will deal with these issues, we will continue to experience the devastating trend of opioid use.
In a recent publication by The Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice, significant statements and recommendations were made which we hope will be nationally replicated:
There are at least two ways in which the knowledge of the correlation between ACEs and opioid addiction can be put to work. The first is through programs to prevent exposure to trauma (primary prevention) and to promote resilience in groups put at risk by exposure to adversity (secondary prevention).
Prevention programs help to ensure that the next generation does not abuse substances when they become adults, which is particularly important in communities devastated by addiction.
The second strategy is to use trauma-informed treatment approaches to help existing addicts recover and return to productive lives. Both approaches, prevention and treatment, need to be part of a comprehensive plan to address opioid addiction.
The core of our problems.
Once again, we should be emphatic about the need for what I call the “permeating effect” of trauma-informed systems both in treatment and prevention.
I truly believe this “permeating effect” is core to so many of our problems in our systems of care as well as our educational systems for children.
This permeating effect is why Lakeside has invested so much of its resources in providing extensive trauma-informed and responsive training to professionals and teachers who assist our children at every age.
Working together within our systems of care for our children, we really believe the impact of trauma can be mitigated as we change our environments, support our families and help our systems become resources for preventing childhood trauma.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside