The ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experience) is a pivotal piece of research coming out of Kaiser Permanente. It is a collection of studies correlating bad experiences as a child with functioning level as an adult. Kaiser interviewed over 17,000 of their HMO members, asking a serious of questions about commonly occurring negative childhood events, such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse, exposure to domestic violence, divorce, parental mental illness, and incarceration of any family member. Their findings were stark.
The number of ACEs was significantly correlated with a variety of negative outcomes in adulthood. Specifically the more ACEs one is exposed to the more likely they are to smoke, abuse drugs and alcohol, be prone to promiscuity or obesity, and be plagued with mental AND physical ailments such as depression, heart disease and cancer. In short, the number of ACEs was predictive of living a shorter life. Findings specific to alcohol use showed that individuals exposed to four ACEs (as opposed to none) were seven times more likely to have an alcohol misuse diagnosis.
The ACE Study has generated worldwide implications for mental health and addiction policy, encouraging early intervention and preventative measures. It also lends credibility to the cause of addiction being at least partially man-made. Understanding the dynamics that in essence create addiction should lead to better prevention and treatment!