In our last post we wrote about adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and the big role it plays when people drink too much alcohol. It can get worse around Christmas when there ‘s so much pressure to play “happy families” . How the experts see ACE is shown below.
In this post we’ll go through how to find out if this is a possible cause of an alcohol problem.
Was your childhood mostly ok or pretty difficult?
A good question to ask yourself was your childhood ok or was it pretty difficult? Are your first childhood memories mainly happy or mainly sad? Do you even have many childhood memories? Many people block out difficult childhood memories.
Make sure you separate out how your parents treated you, from how you actually feel. As we talked about here, you may feel your parents provided all the basics. However if they did not allow you to talk about your feelings, this is now seen as childhood emotional neglect and counts as adverse childhood experience.
Take the quiz
To see whether ACE was a feature of your childhood try this quiz here. The top score is 10 so the nearer you are to 10 the more likely ACE is a problem when you drink too much alcohol.
No one has ever mentioned ACE?
30 years ago we did not talk about ACE and we just described people with a drink problem as a heavy drunk or as an alcoholic. Society saw them as wicked people. Now we know people don’t drink too much from wickedness they do it out of woundness. (Link here)
Many mental health services ask
“What’s wrong with you”
“what happened you”
As we saw from high flyer Emma’s story, she blamed herself and none of the services she got asked about the sexual abuse she had a s a child.
So knowing you have ACE, the key thing is to forgive yourself for the problems you may be causing in your life.
“You can’t give what you have not got.”
Dealing with ACE
Awareness is key. Accepting it’s more difficult to make good decisions when ACE is involved. So treat yourself with more compassion. Living life with ACE is a bit like running a race when everyone else starts ahead of you. So even being in the race is an accomplishment.
The good news is once we become aware that our childhoods were difficult, and our drinking is a response to it, it becomes much easier to control our drinking.
Does ACE mean I will always drink too much alcohol?
The answer is a very definite NO. There are people with high ACE scores who do really well in life generally. Very often there was one single person in their life who loved them unconditionally or they developed awareness of the impact of ACE.
Don’t give up
So if you’re feeling low, or you drink too much alcohol don’t give up. Be kind to yourself and recognise that even reading to the end of this email is progress.
If you’ve found this post useful you might also find Lynn‘s Ruane book “People like me” which is raw and honest about her own adverse childhood experiences and how she overcome them. It recently won the An Post Irish Book award for best non fiction book.