As we struggle with so many social ills, we have launched program after program that attempted to deal with individuals who have committed crimes, are addicted, have mental health challenges or even who have attempted suicide. Some of these therapeutic interventions are extremely valuable but often they are less than effective.
Listed below are some of the statistics related to Adverse Child Experiences Scores. It is easy to see that there is a direct correlation between ACE scores and some of the most prominent social issues in America.
- 61% of incarcerated adults experienced four or more ACEs
- 65% of those attempting suicide experienced four or more ACEs
- 78% of those using intravenous drugs experienced four or more ACEs
- 67% suffering from alcoholism experienced four or more ACEs
- 69% of those suffering mental illness experienced four or more ACEs
- 20% of those out of work for more than a year experienced four or more ACEs
Additionally, people who suffered four or more ACEs are:
- 3 times more likely to have serious job problems
- 15 times more likely to commit suicide
- 2.5 times more likely to smoke tobacco
- 4 times more likely to develop a sexually transmitted disease
- 3 times more likely to experience depression
We have a tendency to treat the symptoms of these social issues which may be necessary to save lives. However, if the cause is more about traumatic child experiences then we may be overlooking a significant contributing factor to crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health issues, etc. Asking “What happened to you?” may be core to a holistic approach to healing for individuals who are experiencing some of these issues.
It is for this reason that Lakeside is so active in training communities in trauma-informed care. The lens of trauma can impact one’s approach to someone in crisis. We absolutely want professionals in human care, law enforcement, mental health, schools and medical staff to be able to use their trained skills in their profession but also importantly, to apply a trauma lens for those situations and people they deal with. This can ensure that they are not ignoring a possible catalyst for how they are reacting to their own trauma triggers. Some of the behaviors that are seen can be a result of individuals attempting to cope with a dysregulated brain. Getting to the root of the problem may bring new clarity. Combined with trauma therapy this can make all the other interventions much more effective.