Although the connection may not seem obvious, child abuse is a major contributing factor to opioid and heroin abuse. In one study, it was found that for women, 78 percent of injected drug use can be attributed to adverse childhood experiences. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) consist of things such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence, parental mental illness and other types of household dysfunction. When children experience adversity without receiving the support and help they need, it can change their brain development in ways that increase the risk of drug addiction and mental and physical health problems. This is especially relevant in Rock County, where we have the highest rate of 4+ ACEs in the state.
This connection is important to recognize in the fight against the opiate epidemic. With this knowledge we can make a difference by:
- Reducing exposure to abuse, neglect, violence and other adversity for children in our community.
- Increasing emotional support and treatment for children who experience potentially traumatic events.
Using trauma-informed drug treatment methods that recognize the roots of addiction and heal the whole person. In order to fully address the opioid crisis, we must look at both treatment and prevention. Prevention is the single most effective long-term solution. This April, consider how you can support a child in need and be a part of the solution.
Shari Faber, project coordinator
Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change