Burke Baldwin, LCSW Program Director

Treating Adolescent Trauma Exposure

There is a strong correlation between trauma and substance use disorder (SUD). Substance use disorders and addiction are frequently driven and exacerbated by unresolved trauma—especially childhood trauma. Research has repeatedly identified the importance of early life experiences to people’s health throughout their life. Individuals who have adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) during childhood or adolescence tend to have more physical and mental health problems as adults than do those who do not experience childhood trauma. 

Adverse childhood experiences are stressful or traumatic; they include abuse, neglect and a range of family system dysfunctions such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with substance abuse, mental illness, parental discord, or crime in the home. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems, including substance use disorder.

The original 1995 ACE study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with the health maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente. It revealed the prevalence of ACEs. For example, 28 percent of Kaiser participants reported physical abuse and 21 percent reported sexual abuse. Substance misuse and mental illness of a parent and divorce or separation were also common events.

Unprocessed trauma can make it harder to relate to others, may perpetuate negative self-perception, and can result in attempts to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Effectively treating trauma is crucial to clearing the path for the treatment of other mental health conditions and substance use disorders to establish a foothold in recovery.

Muir Wood treats adolescent trauma

Muir Wood diagnoses and treats unaddressed trauma that may be affecting adolescents and teens. The ability to develop a strong therapeutic alliance between teens and their care providers is essential to creating the openness needed to disclose traumatic experiences so that they can be processed. We also understand that trauma can result from seemingly insignificant events. Every person experiences their world uniquely. What may seem like an insignificant event to one teen may be deeply troubling to another. Understand the context in which young people perceive their environment is fundamental to our ability to successfully partner with our clients and accurately assess their conditions and experiences so that appropriate care can be provided.