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Study Backs WV Funding Request for Drug Abuse Prevention

December 12, 2008

Charleston, WV – Growing up in a one-parent household, having a family member with a chronic mental illness, or someone in the household with alcohol or drug addiction are childhood experiences that may bring negative effects for life. They're listed as "common experiences" in West Virginia, and elsewhere, in the most recent update in the ACE Study, an ongoing project looking at "adverse childhood experiences."

Lead Investigator Dr. Robert Anda, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says he's found the cumulative effects of those experiences carries a public health price tag for years, because they're linked to alcohol and drug abuse, poor physical health, and mental illnesses in adulthood.

"This really shows the price we pay as a society for letting these kinds of common experiences affect the way children think and behave their whole lives."

Drug abuse is a critical example of a public health issue that needs a more comprehensive approach, according to Dr. ANda. If West Virginia recognizes the role played by childhood experiences, he says, the state wins.

"Understanding how this works is really an important aspect of setting public policy and developing prevention programs."

The West Virginia Partnership to Promote Community Well-Being has told state legislative committees millions of dollars are needed to focus on keeping children from abusing drugs or alcohol.

Other negative childhood experiences tracked in the study include: recurrent emotional abuse, sexual abuse, an incarcerated household member, and a mother who is treated violently. The ongoing study, which is a project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente, is at

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - WV