Since 1990 there had been a public health movement toward understanding ACEs and the toxic stress responses that show up in young adult and adulthood as health issues and/or social problems. The research is astounding about the connection between traumatic experiences as a child and how the mind may have locked it away, but the body keeps score and remembers. We know that those who have experienced trauma in early childhood are the ones most prone to experiment and eventually find smoking, drugs or alcohol as a means of reducing that stress or anxiety their body feels as a teenager or young adult. There have been many campaigns over the years that create an awareness of the disease and social problems related to alcohol and substance abuse. But did you ever wonder WHY? Perhaps it’s time for us to look at (and it sounds crazy to say) but what if alcohol and substance abuse is actually a “solution” to the trauma experienced as a child?
Might that explain why knowing about the health risks from those behaviors isn’t enough to cause people to quit? I do think it’s time for us as a county and a nation to relook at how people cope with such trauma, and if we can raise the level of compassion for people we might be able to hear ourselves say maybe it’s less about what’s wrong with that person and in fact ask ourselves a different question, “I wonder what happened to them?” If we choose to make that shift, I believe it can offer a more trauma informed approach with care and concern for our fellow human beings and realize that we all have stories. My story isn’t better or worse than yours it’s just different. And when we choose to address the trauma from our childhoods, maybe then we can actually build resilience rather than just cope – we can learn to thrive rather than just survive?
AL Meyers (NEAR science Certified National Trainer)