Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Social Work

First Advisor

Julie Harkema

Second Advisor

Dr. Angie Mann-Williams

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Kellman-Fritz


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that happen in a child’s life. These experiences can cause multiple negative outcomes for the child even into their adult life. In the United States, roughly one in ten children have experienced three or more ACEs, and nearly half of all children in the United States have experienced at least one ACE. These problems can be physical, mental, personal and social. Of these outcomes, the individual could develop alcoholism or addiction to substances. Substance abuse is the overindulgence or dependence on substances that are addictive, mainly drugs or alcohol. The relevance substance abuse has to ACEs is that a child is more likely to abuse substances if they have even one of these experiences (Dube et al., 2002). They are even more likely to develop substance abuse if their parents abused substances. This extended literature review will explain the correlation between ACEs and substance abuse. In doing so, there will be a better understanding of how many people in the United States have at least one of these experiences, how they can affect the individual and how to heal after the experience. Social workers can be an important part of both prevention and/or care for those who are suffering from ACEs.

Included in

Social Work Commons