Courtesy of Godoy Medical Forensics
Among the life experiences that are linked to adult problems, childhood adversity is the best studied and has the most compelling data. In study after study, early life adversity is linked to medical, mental health, and other problems including substance abuse and involvement with the criminal justice system. The negative effects of early life experience are additive. For example, if a person experiences multiple forms of abuse and neglect as a child, his or her risk of developing a substance use disorder later in life increases several-fold. All types of child abuse and neglect put a person at greater risk for arrest later in life.
The Adverse Childhood Experience Scale and other tools systematically assess abuse, neglect, household dysfunction, and other childhood problems. Summarizing and discussing the cumulative impact of childhood adversity using published research evidence is a powerful way to link early life problems with adult problems.