Service providers and FASD prevention advocates are well aware of the intersections of trauma, substance use, and mental health issues as first described by researchers like Lisa Najavits (Najavits, Weiss, & Shaw, 1997). Research from the Women and Co-occurring Disorders and Violence study substantiated what many understood intuitively – that women with substance use problems facing complex life issues are best served through multi-leveled, integrated service models that are trauma-informed, gender-specific, and holistic (Amaro, Chernoff, Brown, Arévalo, & Gatz, 2007; Brown & Melchior, 2008).
There is an upcoming opportunity to learn more about applying these approaches to FASD prevention and care in a webinar on April 18th at 9:00 am MST. The CSS Learning Series webinar as part of their FASD Learning Series will feature speakers Candice Sutterfield, Lakeland Centre for FASD, and Dr. Peter Choate, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Mount Royal University and clinical supervisor for the Alberta College of Registered Social Workers. They will address both a prevention and supports & services perspective. Sign up here: http://csslearningseries.ca/trauma-informed-fasd-prevention-and-care-registration-2/
Programs in Canada, like Breaking the Cycle and HerWay Home, currently offer integrated programs for/with pregnant and parenting women with substance use issues. Their program frameworks are trauma- and FASD-informed and they offer substance use treatment/support programming as well as needed social services and referrals at a single access point. Program evaluation findings show that relationship building is the key component benefiting women’s growth and supporting the mother-child relationship long-term. (See their evaluations here: Breaking the Cycle and HerWay Home).
In a very recent study undertaken in Ontario, findings from interviews with women participating in integrated programs, described qualities of a therapeutic relationship that helped women improve emotional regulation and executive functioning (Milligan, Usher, & Urbanoski, 2017). Therapeutic relationships that incorporate trust, care, positive regard and a non-punitive attitude can create a safe attachment from which women can apply effective problem solving in all areas of their lives.
Sign up for the webinar and see these earlier posts for more information:
HerWay Home Program for Pregnant Women and New Mothers in Victoria, BC, February 12, 2013
Amaro, H., Chernoff, M., Brown, V., Arévalo, S., & Gatz, M. (2007). Does integrated trauma-informed substance abuse treatment increase treatment retention? Journal of Community Psychology, 35(7), 845-862.
Brown, V. B., & Melchior, L. A. (2008). Women with co-occuring disorders (COD): Treatment settings and service needs. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, SARC SUPPL 5, 365-385.
Milligan, K., Usher, A. M., & Urbanoski, K. A. (2017). Supporting pregnant and parenting women with substance-related problems by addressing emotion regulation and executive function needs. Addiction Research & Theory, 25(3), 251-261. doi:10.1080/16066359.2016.1259617
Najavits, L. M., Weiss, R. D., & Shaw, S. R. (1997). The link between substance abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder in women. A research review. The American Journal On Addictions / American Academy Of Psychiatrists In Alcoholism And Addictions, 6(4), 273-283.