Over a 25-year career in lawenforcement, I witnessed the escalation and severity of mental illness and addiction, a tragic pandemic in communities across the U.S., Canada, and the world.
One of the significant catalysts contributing to the current state was the introduction of oxycodone (OxyContin) by Pur-due Pharma in the mid-1990s. I remember the progression of its use and abuse on the streets and decided to introduce pro-active drug education projects in my community. A tidal wave of social destruction was mounting beneath the surface. Addiction was grow-ing exponentially with too little done, too late. Despite the addictive nature of oxy (street slang), it continued to be over-prescribed and heavily marketed, leaving thousands of lives in turmoil. Following, unfolded the abuse of the noncrushable version of oxycodone, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and anything a person could make or take to get high.
As overdoses escalated, every officer carried naloxone as a standard to counter opioid overdose effects. Stories of people being revived from death were common. I worked in the court unit and made frequent trips to the hospital with prisoners experiencing severe withdrawals, an overdose, or an attempted or threatened suicide. Many shared a common thread of adverse childhood experiences: abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), trauma, abandonment, someone in the home, which was a drug abuser or violent toward others in the home, and other unhealthy exposures.
In the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2019; Vol. 68 No. 44: p. 999-1005 by Melissa T. Merrick, Ph.D. et al., titled “Estimated Proportion of Adult Health Problems Attributable to Adverse Childhood Experi-ences and Implications for Pre-vention — 25 States, 2015-2017,” the association between life outcome and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were assessed.
The U.S. study used BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) with 144,017 respondents from 25 U.S. states, reporting on a range of health conditions and risk behaviors. The respondents reported adverse childhood experiences, ranging from none to four or more, i.e., exposure to abuse: mental, physical, emotional; household challenges, such as a household member with substance misuse, incarcerated, mentally ill; parental divorce; or witnessing intimate partner violence before the age of 18. The study group also report-ed if they had any of these conditions (as advised by their healthcare professional): coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer (excluding skin), kidney disease, diabetes, and depression.
Other topics in the survey included reporting BMI (Body Mass Index) to determine participants’ overweight or obesity statuses, smoking history and current use, and heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages. The respondents also record-ed socioeconomic challenges, including lack of health insurance, unemployment status, and level of education. The above researchers concluded:
“Adverse childhood experi-ences, such as violence, victim-ization, substance misuse in the household, or witnessing intimate partner violence, have been linked to leading causes of adult morbidity and mortal-ity. Therefore, reducing adverse childhood experiences is critical to avoiding multiple negative health and socioeconomic out-comes in adulthood. … “Nearly one in six adults of the study population reported four or more adverse childhood experiences. Adverse childhood experiences were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes, health risk behaviors, and socioeconomic challenges.
“Efforts that prevent adverse childhood experiences could also potentially prevent adult chronic conditions, depression, health risk behaviors, and negative socioeconomic outcomes. States can use comprehensive public health approaches derived from the best available evidence to prevent childhood adversity before it begins. By creating the conditions for healthy communities and focusing on primary prevention, it is possible to reduce the risk of adverse childhood experiences while also mitigating consequences for those already affected by these experiences.
“… adverse childhood experiences can derail optimal health and development by altering gene expression, brain connectivity and function, immune system function, and organ function. (8) Adverse childhood experiences can also compromise the development of healthy coping strategies, which can affect health behaviors, physical and mental health, life opportunities, and premature death. … Adverse childhood experiences have been linked to increased risk for alcohol and substance use disorders, suicide, mental health conditions, heart disease, other chronic illnesses, and health risk behaviors throughout life. …
“At least five of the ten leading causes of death have been associated with exposure to adverse childhood experiences, including several contributors to declines in life expectancy. … “Preventing adverse childhood experiences is critical to ad-dressing multiple public health and social challenges and to improving the lives of children, families, and communities.”
“At least five of the ten leading causes of death have been associated with exposure to adverse childhood experiences, including several contributors to declines in life expectancy. … “Preventing adverse childhood experiences is critical to ad-dressing multiple public health and social challenges and to improving the lives of children, families, and communities.”
Precious Pinata® The Adversity-Buster I created Precious Pinata®, an original plush toy and book, with the intention of prevent-ing childhood adversity and to grow healthy, safe, and thriving children.Precious Pinata® is not a typical pinata. It is a hug-gable, eco-and-child-friendly stuffy, designed to incorporate psychology, early intervention, prevention, education, and adult-child mentorship.
With world-first knowledge stuffing—seven fluffy different-colored balls found inside of Precious’s zippered belly—kids learn about life with the guidance of an adult presenting the Precious Pinata®: What’s in Your Child’s Stuffing? Guide-book. Children soon realize the sources and outcomes of healthy or unhealthy stuffing (life experiences) on self and others. One of the fluffy balls inside of Precious Pinata® is brown and named Pinata-Poop-Stuffing. Children giggle hearing this—a great method to ensure Pre-cious’s lessons stick! This type of stuffing makes a person feel sad, angry, anxious, or afraid.
A child is encouraged to share these experiences with an adult right away, to work through feelings healthily, and discover the source.Children also learn about mental health and destigmatizing mental illness, e.g., people who are depressed need help and often speak with a doctor or therapist to help them with their stuffing (feelings, experiences). This is a good thing. Some of Precious’s topics include relationships, mental health, racism, bullying, emotions, sexual abuse, green earth, outdoor play, goals, leadership, gratitude, cultural diversity, Team 911, drugs, and more.
Dr. Rafiq, a specialist in mental health, addiction, and a psychiatrist with a fellowship in Canada, the USA, and a certified psychiatrist from the United Kingdom and Ireland said, “Precious Pinata® is the most comprehensive teaching tool for children I have come across, covering diverse topics, real-life situations, including social, emotional, environmen-tal or physical issues.”
Jessica Gottlieb, MSW, PSW, T.S. of West Island Therapy Centre, Pierrefonds, Quebec uses Precious Pinata® with children who have anxiety, depression, and autism. Jessica wrote, “Precious Piñata® is a unique and innovative tool that assists my clients in identifying, and expressing their feelings. Precious Piñata® is a wonderful psychoeducational tool.”
I am on a global mission to end childhood adversity, using Precious Pinata® as the gateway tool. Click: https://charleneren-aud.com/growing-confident/ to receive my FREE downloadable guide, “Growing Confident, Thriving, Energetic, Healthy and Safe Kids.”
I experienced more than four ACEs growing up—a suicidal parent, addiction, violence, detachment, and emotional abuse. I know how much it hurts. These experiences were ingrained in my subconscious mind, influencing my normal and how I perceived myself.
I write about life challenges, overcoming adversity, con-scious awareness, faith, forgiveness, and investing in counsel-ling and positive mentorship, as a launchpad to a new health paradigm, in my book for adults, The Pinata Theory® What’s in Your Stuffing? Because of COVID -19, we are evolving through an unprecedented twenty-first- century global challenge. We have been forced into response mode. This disease has mirrored our weakness, inadequacy, poor planning, wasteful nature, disillusioned thinking, and disconnectedness to people, animals, and the planet.
A national health crisis existed for decades well before this new strain of coronavirus. Children are threatening/ committing suicide and facing unprecedented social, physical, and mental health challenges far greater than previous generations.Response mode isn’t working to address the Gigantic-Pinata-in-the -Room, my lingo for “the white elephant in the room.” A research article “Suicidal At-tempts and Ideation Among Children and Adolescents in U.S. Emergency Departments, 2007-2015” published on April 19, 2019, in JAMA Pediatrics, used data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) to analyze over 30,000 visits to the emergency department for children, aged five to 18. In the United States, suicidal behavior has turned into a public health crisis, with the number of suicidal attempts or suicidal thoughts more than doubling, from 580,000 emergency room visits in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015. The median age was just 13 years old, and nearly half were young children aged five to 11.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth age 10 to 18 in the USA. We are failing miserably at protecting our most precious resource—children. I have a partial theory about why kids are suffering and getting sick. We’ve vastly discarded the necessary developmental component of healthy bonding and communication lost through the overuse of devices, busy schedules, and adverse childhood experiences.
Precious Pinata® purposefully integrates good ole sit-down and talk about life and bonding into its success methodology. Parents, educators, and therapists report kids are speaking up and asking questions. We must redesign our health, education, and social strategy, investing in resources that are prevention-based, affordable, life-realistic, transportable, easily adapted, and engage people. Precious Pinata® is a great resource to address and prevent current and future health crises. It is a life manual for kids. Children are precious and deserve the best life possible.
Saving children.Topdoctor Magazine.com
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