A COMMUNITY CONNECTION FOR RECOVERY
• February 2020 •
Adverse childhood experiences, known as ACEs, are stressful or traumatic events that happen to us before the age of 18. This can include abuse, sexual assault, neglect, household dysfunction, domestic violence, and growing up with family members who have mental health and substance use disorders. Children who are chronically exposed this toxic stress can experience disruption in neurodevelopment. When this happens, cognitive functioning and the ability to cope with negative emotions can become impaired. Over time, traumatized children may adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance use, lack of anger management, or self-harm. Studies are showing that such reactions to toxic stress contribute to disease, disability, and social problems, as well as early death. The kicker is that it’s not uncommon: 63.5% of Californians have experienced at least one of the ACEs indicators, and 17.6% have experienced four or more. People with four or more ACEs are 30 times as likely to attempt suicide, up to 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke, cancer, or heart disease, and 1.5 times as likely to have diabetes.
California is taking notice. Governor Gavin Newsom recently dedicated $10 million to the development of an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) public awareness campaign and cross-sector training. The state’s first ever California Surgeon General, Nadine Burke Harris, has set a goal of cutting ACEs and toxic stress in half within one generation by raising awareness and strengthening response networks. L.A. CADA has been a trauma-informed agency since 2000, and we’re excited to participate in this new initiative. It’s time to address ACEs as a root cause of health and societal challenges – from addiction to homelessness.
Learn More: ACES on YouTube