Viewing Recovery Through A Trauma-Informed & Gender Responsive Lens

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Many women seeking treatment for addiction report a history of trauma and abuse and there are many complex factors associated with this truth. For example, there are “issues related to gender and culture, shame, stigma, family, community, and limited resources” that act as barriers to recovery.

This webinar explores the connection between gender, trauma, and addiction by using a trauma-informed and gender responsive lens. It seeks to address the specific needs of trauma survivors by helping them break free of the shame and stigma associated with relapse. The goal is to provide an approach that allows “women to feel safe, connected, and empowered to thrive and flourish on their limitless journey toward healing and wholeness.”

Published in 2016

Viewing Time: 1 hour

Information From Slides

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders among adult female populations.
  • Describe the mental health implications for women suffering from PTSD and substance use disorders.
  • Explore a variety of effective gender-responsive trauma-informed treatment interventions for women with substance use disorders.

Women & Trauma

  • About half of all women in the U.S. will be exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.
  • Women are more vulnerable to sexual assault and child sexual abuse than men.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives.
  • Women experience PTSD at 2-3x the rate that men do.
  • Lifetime estimates of PTSD are 9.7% for women and 3.6% for men.
  • 80% of women seeking treatment for SUDs report a lifetime history of sexual and/or physical assault.
  • Women with PTSD and SUD present with higher rates of other comorbid disorders that can complicate treatment and prognosis.
  • The rate of PTSD in the general population of women is about 11%; for women in treatment the rate is 30-59%.

Integrated Treatment

It is essential to address both the addiction and underlying trauma. When the addiction is gone, all the memories, emotions and thoughts that were being suppressed by the addiction will surface. It is impossible to heal the trauma while the addiction is active.

Treatment must address the relationships between:

  • Treatment must address the relationships between:
  • The trauma and the addictive behaviour.
  • The role of the addictive behaviour in medicating traumatic activation.
  • The origins of both in the traumatic past.
  • The reality that recovering from either means recovering from both.
  • Stigma and shame associated with trauma, gender, addiction, and mental illness.
  • Cultural, social, and systematic barriers that increase risk for relapse.

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)

“An organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma Informed Care also emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for both consumers and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.”


These intervention programs generally recognize the following:

  • The survivor’s need to be respected, informed, connected, and hopeful regarding their own recovery.
  • The interrelation between trauma and symptoms of trauma, such as substance use, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.
  • The need to work in a collaborative way with survivors, family and friends of the survivor, and other human services agencies in a manner that will empower survivors and consumers.

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Trauma-Informed Care (TIC)

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