Understanding the connections between substance use, mental health and trauma

Webcasts, examples of best practices, reading lists, training curricula and more can be found on the newly launched Coalescing on Women and Substance Use web site.

This web site is based on the findings of a one-year research project (2010-2011) to learn more about trauma-informed approaches in Canada. Researchers at the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health interviewed service providers, program planners, and policy makers across Canada to learn more about trauma-informed approaches being used to assist women with mental health, substance use and violence concerns. As one social policy consultant commented “We found that the big issues that kept coming up – addictions, FASD, domestic violence and residential schools – were all related to trauma.”

The site is organized into four sections depending on your interests and the type of work you do (e.g., service provider, program manager):

  1. Trauma-Informed Care in Canada
  2. Connecting Substance Use, Mental Health and Trauma
  3. Developing Trauma-Informed Practices
  4. Developing Trauma-Informed Services

Among other things, the site clarifies the differences between “trauma-informed” services and “trauma-specific” services. If you’re looking for a place to get your feet wet in terms of understanding the connections between addictions and trauma, this is a really good starting place.

Anyone who has worked with women struggling with alcohol issues knows that trauma, in one form or another, is often an underlying issue. The resources pulled together by the research team is also encouraging as it shows that many people are thinking about these interconnections seriously  and are working to develop sensitive, caring, and timely supports.