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  1. #1
    Registered User. RedThread12's Avatar

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    19th July, 2009.
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    Childhood Trauma Alcoholism, Addiction . . .

    I've been meaning to post this information for too long. It was really helpful for me to understand my disease/behavior in a larger context. I post it here in case it is helpful for any of you, as well. In my opinion, this information might begin to explain why the conditions that underlie drinking sometimes keep re-appearing so we keep on re-drinking, or at least re-encountering difficult states.

    In 2004, Dr. Vincent J. Felitti at Kaiser-Permanente (one of the largest providers of medical insurance and medical care in the U.S.) published a study that demonstrated the connection between "Adverse Childhood Experiences" or "ACE's" to adult alcoholism, other addictions, and a host of diseases. Here's a link to the original paper:

    You can also google "Adverse Childhood Experiences," or "ACE Study" and find a number of places to get more information, including a link to the National Center for Disease Control, where they are continuing research into the links between childhood trauma and adult health based on Dr. Felitti's original findings. So this model has at least some standing in mainstream medicine.

    This work grew out of a program that Dr. Felitti conducted to reduce obesity among Kaiser-Permanent patients. In the course of that study, he found that reducing weight, along with having adequate information, support and resources did not keep patients from re-gaining their un-healthy weight levels. So he started asking questions.

    What is an ACE? Growing up experiencing any of the following conditions in your household before the age of 18:

    1. Recurrent physical abuse
    2. Recurrent emotional abuse
    3. Contact sexual abuse
    4. An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household
    5. An incarcerated household member
    6. Someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
    7. Mother is treated violently
    8. One or no parents
    9. Emotional or physical neglect

    Regarding alcoholism, Dr. Felitti mentions that these figures are based on "self-reported" alcoholism, and suggests that they are probably much higher because few people actually self-report their drinking problem. He discovered that an ACE score of 4 or more predicts a 500% greater possibility that one will be an alcoholic over someone with an ACE score of 0. 500%! My ACE score is 4, even though I feel that I had a better-than-average childhood. The original study looked also looked at IV drug addiction (4600% higher possibility with ACE score of 6!), smoking and COPD. Newer studies include diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

    My point of view is that if it shows up in my life, I am responsible for dealing with it. Blame is a game in which everyone loses. However, understanding that my behavior, which was unacceptable even to me, might have roots in circumstances and events that I had no responsibility for has helped alleviate some of the guilt and utter loss of confidence that came with my drinking.

    I owe my life to the people on this forum who ventured outside the current models for addiction to find other ways to fight this feckin' disease. I believe that ten or twenty years from now it will be seen that the way our culture treats addiction is still in the Dark Ages. But hopefully, knowledge will become power to keep making the effort to come out of all of these sufferings. I guess that's one way to look at it - if ACE's are in your history, overcoming drink AND learning how to live puts a full stop to some very dark traits of humanity. And THAT is a huge contribution to the planet.

  2. #2
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    12th September, 2007.
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    Childhood Trauma Alcoholism, Addiction . . .

    This is quite interesting Red. A topic that I have done a lot of research on over the years. According to ACE, my score is a 6. But with that being said, I especially appreciate YOUR words regarding "personal responsibilty for handling our own lives."

    To me this personal responsibility and taking charge of my addicion and my life was the turning point. I also agree that it does help to understand some of the ways that we might be predisposed to addiction due to trauma. But, this is still not an "excuse" for staying in addiction and addictive behaviors.The fact is that we ALL have Free Will and Choice.

    Another point that was powerful to me is this: We CHOOSE how we live each day. Living in the past solves nothing, keeps us help captive and leaves no energy or creativity for today or tomorrow. Living in the moment leaves ALL Doors To Today and the Future Open!

    Thanks Again!

  3. #3
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    28th May, 2010.
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    Childhood Trauma Alcoholism, Addiction . . .

    It is hard to know at times whether it is nature or nurture. That is I imagine that families with alcohol abuse also can be chaotic, violent, neglectful and traumatic in other ways. There is also the genetic propensity passed along as well as the psychosocial training or response which may wire us in particular ways Studies of twins raised apart might help answer some of these questions. These are, of course, generalizations and not predictive of any one person's outcome. We all know of exceptions. By having a 5 times (500%) the risk for a certain behavior doesn't mean you have to behave that way. I don't think I know of anyone who hasn't had at least one of these issues!
    I agree that understanding is helpful and blame is not. After all we don't know how well OUR parents were treated in their homes of origin either.
    I am so thankful for this forum

  4. #4
    Registered User. brightlite's Avatar

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    29th August, 2008.
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    Childhood Trauma Alcoholism, Addiction . . .

    I actually think she has something here...or the Good Doctor had something here. Very well constructed and thought out...with not so wrong conclusions, in my opinion. Thanks Red...that is a contribution for the good of the whole.

    I'll admit number 8 hit parents...then again, number 4 and 7 affected me in I lived with my Aunt and Uncle! Oye! I quess I'm a real basket case according to this.....

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