There is a strong link between exposure to traumatic events and substance use problems. Many people who have experienced traumatic events use alcohol or drugs to help them deal with pain, feelings, and symptoms associated with trauma. Conversely, people with alcohol or drug use problems are more likely to experience traumatic events than people who do not experience problems with drugs and alcohol.
Head Start programs can play a significant role in reducing the negative impacts of substance use and trauma on young children and their families. Programs can adopt trauma-informed practices and strategies such as creating a physically and emotionally safe space for children and families. It is important to understand how trauma impacts children, families, staff, communities, and systems.
Find guidance on creating trauma-informed child and family systems in which all parties recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress. Learn what children, caregivers, and service providers can do to facilitate recovery and support families' ability to thrive.
This framework is designed for early education and other settings that can potentially ease the effects of traumatic experiences. It provides guidance to helps systems communicate with each other and better understand the connections between trauma and behavioral health issues. Use it to help program systems become more trauma-informed.
Early childhood mental health consultants can help build trauma-informed services through programmatic consultation. Consultants can work with Head Start and Early Head Start administrators and staff to provide guidance and recommendations for professional development, program policy, and practices that will prepare them to work effectively with a high-risk and potentially traumatized population.
Explore a wealth of resources for early childhood programs to address the effects of trauma in children. Topics include adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma-informed care, identifying the signs and symptoms of trauma, and evidence-based interventions.
There are many adverse experiences that can cause significant stress in young children and their families. Examples include child abuse, neglect, separation from primary caregivers, family mental illness and substance abuse, and domestic violence. But children can thrive when families, early childhood programs, and home visitors understand the effects of trauma and toxic stress and build trusting, positive relationships.
Learn about ways to identify children and families who have experienced trauma. Find resources to help caregivers and families prevent toxic stress, build resilience, and cope with and heal from traumatic events.
Trauma-Informed Approaches Need to Be Part of a Comprehensive Strategy for Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
Review the evidence linking trauma and ACEs to opioid addiction. This brief also provides examples of effective prevention and treatment programs. It also describes innovative approaches used by communities to address the current epidemic.
Explore the systems- and practice-level changes that can be made to provide trauma-informed care. Learn about the Trauma-Informed Care Assessment Project and key strategies that programs can implement to minimize trauma triggers for children and families.
National Centers:Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: March 3, 2021