Understanding Trauma to Tackle the Opioid Crisis


The heartbreaking impacts of the opioid epidemic are all over the news and the internet. There have been calls to action that range from more accessible addiction treatments, harsher penalties for drug dealers, and stricter guidelines for prescription medications.

But how about preventing addiction issues from starting in the first place?

We now know from the research stemming out of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study that trauma and abuse during childhood are strongly related to the development and prevalence of health and social problems as an adult, including substance abuse. In fact, the research shows us that an individual with 4 or more adverse childhood experiences is 10 times more likely to be an IV drug user than someone with 0 adverse childhood experiences.

At CUPS, we treat the opioid epidemic and other substance abuse issues by dispensing naloxone kits and offering mental health services and harm reduction programs. On the prevention side, we have 2-generational education programs for caregivers and children to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational trauma and toxic stress that have long-term negative effects on the health and wellness of our families.

Successfully tackling the opioid epidemic involves increasing awareness and education around the impacts of trauma on young brains. We must work together to address and prevent trauma from occurring in the first place. What affects one part of our community affects us all, and we all have a stake in promoting the well-being of our fellow citizens.

#ShineALight on the Numbers

● 1 in 10 Calgarians live in poverty

● 1 in 4 Canadians lives with diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes

● 1 in 5 Canadians experience mental illness or addiction problems each year

● 4 million people in Canada experience food insecurity

● 1 in 8 Canadian households struggle to put food on the table.

● An estimated 45% of the overall homeless population are individuals living with mental illness

● 28 – 34% of shelter users are Indigenous peoples

● 40% of Indigenous children in Canada live in poverty

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