The stigma surrounding a death due to an opioid overdose is especially strong and leaves the child feeling isolated, outcast or even abandoned completely without any familial or community connections.
The child at the time of the overdose death has already accumulated at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) score due to life in a household with a grown-up who is abusing substances. ACEs comes from the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), groundbreaking research that looked at how 10 types of childhood trauma affect long-term health
If the parent suffered from mental health problems, like opioid use disorder or depression, was incarcerated, or abused, the child accumulates additional ACE’s, which make them more likely to succumb to mental health problems or substance use themselves. The child may have been present and witnessed the death and sat, frightened, in shock, until help arrived. Having then experienced another traumatic event, whether they witness it or not, they acquired another ACE point making them among the most at risk children in our country today.Continue Reading