Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Incorporating ACEs into Substance Abuse Prevention Efforts

Because ACEs are common and strongly related to a variety of substance abuse and related behavioral health outcomes, prevention of ACES and early identification of those who experience ACEs could prevent a number of negative consequences and have a significant impact on a range of critical health problems. Specifically, practitioners can thus strengthen their substance abuse prevention efforts by:

  • Collecting state- and county-level ACE data to drive local decision making (e.g., by incorporating ACEs s indicators into Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Systems)
  • Increasing awareness of ACEs among state- and community-level substance abuse prevention practitioners, emphasizing the relevance of ACEs to multiple behavioral health disciplines
  • Including ACEs among the primary risk and protective factors considered when engaging in substance abuse prevention planning efforts
  • Selecting and implementing programs, policies, and strategies designed to address ACEs; including efforts focusing on reducing intergenerational transmission of ACEs
  • Using ACEs research and local ACEs data to identify groups of people who may be at higher risk for substance abuse and related behavioral health problems


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