How to Effectively Treat Secondhand Drinking-related Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse childhood experiences or ACEs may cause physical and emotional issues for the victims over their lifetime. Additionally, it can be a result of secondhand drinking. The worst part is, it can perpetuate a vicious cycle from one generation to the next. Therefore, the government should strive to prevent the effects of ACEs on society.

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences?

ACEs are the possible traumatic events experienced by children up to 17 years old. These can also be aspects of a child’s environment that threaten his or her sense of bonding, stability, and safety. Exposures to ACEs can lead to unhealthy coping behaviors like substance abuse, premarital sex, and suicide.

Based on 2016 data, 11% of American children experienced three or more ACEs, with children in low-income families being the most vulnerable. Children with parents whose highest education is high school or less are also more likely to experience ACEs. These experiences may affect the ways in which these children learn, cope with stress, and make decisions during their lifetime.

What is secondhand drinking or SHD?

Essentially, secondhand drinking is the harmful effects of an individual’s drinking behavior on others. Based on data, SHD directly affects around 75 million Americans and indirectly impacts tens of millions more. Among these affected are parents, spouses, siblings, children, co-workers, close friends, and innocent bystanders.

To learn more about SHD and how to properly handle it, visit your local public health clinics, or look for online resources.

Examples of SHD-related ACEs

Millions of children experience ACEs due to SHD. These traumatic events can have unfortunate impacts on the victims’ emotional and physical health that can persist for years. Here are some SHD-related ACEs:

  • Physical, verbal, and sexual abuse
  • Witnessing the abuse of mother
  • Parent separation or divorce
  • Emotional and physical neglect of parents
  • Shaming and blaming
  • Broken promises of parents
  • Living with a problem drinker or alcoholic

Tips on preventing and treating the harmful effects of SHD-related ACEs

The negative health impacts of ACEs can be reduced or eliminated by building and strengthening the victims’ coping ability. A child’s resilience can develop through a reliable support system that may include:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social groups
  • Community health and development programs
  • Substantial support for parents and families
  • Positive parenting skills
  • Children’s emotional and social health programs
  • Development of a sense of purpose
  • Establishment of a close relationship with responsible caregivers or other caring adults
  • Children’s problem-solving skills and self-regulation capabilities

Proposed governmental interventions to prevent and mitigate the harmful effects of ACEs

Governments should design and implement programs and policies to prevent or reduce the impacts of ACEs. Here are some of them:

  • Promoting social norms which protect against violence and adversity through public education campaigns
  • Strengthening household financial security by implementing family-friendly work policies
  • Providing reliable support to children through high-quality childcare and early childhood home visitations
  • Teaching proper social-emotional behavior, as well as safe dating and healthy relationship norms to teenagers
  • Training parents with appropriate family relationship approaches and parenting skills
  • Implementing after-school mentoring programs
  • Introducing family-centered treatment programs for substance use disorder

Adverse childhood experiences have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing and society. Therefore, families, communities, and governments should collaborate to prevent it and support the victims.