Childhood Experiences and Health: Substance Use and Adversity
What does early adversity have to do with substance use? A lot. People often use substances to cope with stress. Trauma also changes the brain. These changes impact behavior, including the use of substances.
Pages in this section
- Early health risks and Wisconsin youth
- Prevalence of ACES and Wisconsin adults
- Health conditions and adversity
- Substance use and adversity
Substance use associated with early adversity
Early adversity often inhibits our ability to deal with negative emotions in a healthy way. Unfortunately, this can lead to unhealthy behaviors in an effort to cope. Here are just a few examples:
- Early initiation of alcohol use
- Higher risk of substance use disorder
- Lifelong tobacco use
How early adversity impacts the risks of substance use
ACEs have a significant impact on our risk for substance use. Below are just a few.
Cigarette smoking is a high-risk behavior associated with heart disease, COPD, certain cancers, and other negative health outcomes. In Wisconsin, individuals with four or more ACEs are three times more likely to smoke cigarettes than those with an ACEs score of zero.
ACEs are associated with greater drug-related risks among opioid users, with higher ACE scores associated with earlier age of initial use, the likelihood of recent injection drug use, and the likelihood of experiencing an overdose.
There are many steps that people can take to prevent and buffer the effects of early adversity.
Discuss substance use
Learn how open and honest conversations can help make an impact on substance use in Wisconsin.
Prevent underage drinking
Learn why talking with kids starting at age 8 about the dangers of alcohol use before age 21 can make a difference.
Talk to someone
Learn about helplines, hotlines, and text services that provide support for all types of issues.
Support systems change
Learn how to be part of efforts to improve health in every Wisconsin community.