Although the deleterious impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on offending has been established, less is known about the possible protective factors that may buffer this relationship. Using a sample of over 28,000 adjudicated delinquents from a large southern state, the current study investigated the role of substance (non)use on the relationship between ACEs and recidivism and whether these results differed by race/ethnicity and sex. Results illustrate that ACEs increase the likelihood of recidivism among youth who engaged in moderate-to-high substance use. However, this effect was not found among youth who reported little-to-no substance use. Furthermore, these effects were largely consistent across race/ethnicity and sex. Policy implications of this buffering effect are discussed as well as limitations and directions for future research.