COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Trauma experienced as a child can manifest itself later as addiction, said Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz.
In the coroner’s fatality review, Dr. Ortiz sampled 93 adults at random. She asked Children’s Services to find out whether these people were connected with them in any way. Overall 44% of the deceased had active cases, and 30% had active cases as a child.
Of the 44% with active cases at Children’s Services, those people had been connected some way with Children’s Services as an adult, either living in a household with a child who had a case, or siblings, or a parent.
“Trauma can manifest itself later on as addiction and that’s what we are exploring in the fatality review that we run. It can eventually manifest itself in addiction in overdoses, and subsequently in death from overdosing.”
Dr. Ortiz said that science is beginning to show that trauma has a great deal of effect on the developing child. “We are finding that just living in areas with high violence where children are witnessing the violence can also cause trauma within the child.
“We know that trauma isn’t just something emotional that happens within a child. There are actual brain changes that come through from the trauma that’s experienced. The heart rate goes up, the fight or flight, and that releases a set of hormones.
“If you sustain that release of hormones, you’re going to effect the blood vessels, the nervous system, and if it’s chronic enough or severe enough, that can cause changes in your brain. It can lead to issues like addiction and depression, mental health, diseases, etc.”
For children who see someone getting shot, Dr. Ortiz compares the event to what happens to a soldier in the field. “A little eight year old or nine year old seeing their brother or sister or friend shot in front of them and die — that’s huge,” said Dr. Ortiz. “It can have the same effects as a soldier in Afghanistan.”
Children look for attachment, and drugs will take the place of that attachment. Dr. Ortiz posted links to a video which explains the process.
“There are so many avenues for help, especially for youth,” Dr. Ortiz said. “Nationwide Children’s Hospital has that new behavioral health center which is a great place to go when children need help.”