Substance Use & Pregnancy

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Generating and raising awareness of research on the risks associated with alcohol and substance use by girls and women is an important aspect of our work.  We are known for promoting a multilevel approach to prevention of alcohol and substance use in pregnancy, including: broad awareness activities, non-judgemental discussion of drinking and other substance use by health professionals, access to specialized holistic support programming, and post-partum interventions with mothers and children.

As well as health promotion and prevention related work, BCCEWH researchers and knowledge exchange experts work towards improving policy and service provision for girls and women with substance use problems and addictions, including trauma-informed substance use treatment.

Current project example(s)

Network Action Team – FASD Prevention from a Women’s Health Perspective

This Team links researchers, service providers, policy advisors and mothers from across Canada in order to build upon the current knowledge base about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) prevention, and bring it into health promotion, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and  policy development, as well as further research.

Funder: Canada FASD Research Network

Blog – The Team uses a blog to keep its members and others around the world apprised of issues, developments  and actions on FASD Prevention See the Network’s Blog.

Recent Peer Reviewed Publications

  1. Poole, N., Chansonneuve, D., & Hache, A. (2014). Improving substance use treatment for First Nations and Inuit women: Recommendations arising from a virtual inquiry project. First Peoples Child & Family Review. 8(2), 7-23.
  2. Thomas, G., Gonneau, G., Poole, N., & Cook, J. (2014). The effectiveness of alcohol warning labels for reducing drinking in pregnancy: A brief review.  International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, 3(1), 91-103. doi:10.7895/ijadr.v3i1.126
  3. Nathoo, T., Poole, N., Bryans, M., Dechief, L., Hardeman, S., Marcellus, L., et al. (2013). Voices from the community: Developing effective community programs to support pregnant and early parenting women who use alcohol and other substances. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 8(1), 94-106.
  4.  Poole, N., Nathoo, T., & Hache, A (2013). Community-driven alcohol policy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder prevention: Implications for Canada’s north? International Journal of Circumpolar Health, ICCH15 Proceedings, 72(S1), 250-251. doi:
  5. Rutman, D., Poole, N., Hume, S., Hubberstey, C., & Van Bibber, M. (2013). Building a framework for evaluation of FASD prevention and support programs: A collaborative Canadian project. The International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research (IJADR), Special Issue on FASD, 2(3). doi:10.7895/ijadr.v3i1.122

Recent Books

  1. Poole, N., & Greaves, L. (Eds.). (2007). Highs and lows: Canadian perspectives on women and substance use. Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
    Click here for order information

Recent Reports and Knowledge Exchange Materials

  1. Women and Alcohol: A Women’s Health Resource, 2014
  2. Girls, Alcohol and Depression: A Backgrounder for Facilitators of Girls’ Empowerment Groups, 2013
  3. Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Women who Use Substances: What Communities are Doing to Help, 2012

Linked Websites

Visit the Evaluation of FASD Prevention and FASD Support Programs website

Visit the Coalescing on Women and Substance Use website


Trauma-Informed Approaches to Seclusion and Restraint Reduction

A discussion guide for service providers and program planners, this resource offers strategies to support organizational change. It includes reflective questions for examining current approaches to seclusion and restraint, determining current trends and impacts, and developing alternatives that are trauma informed.

It is one of several resources developed as part of the Trauma / Gender / Substance Use (TGS) project made possible by funding from Health Canada. The views in the guide do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

Download TGS Trauma-Informed Approaches to Seclusion and Restraint Reduction

Developing an Indigenous Approach to FASD

The Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and the Canada FASD Research Network convened in May 2017 to create a Consensus Statement to addressing and preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder for Indigenous Peoples. Their collaborative response details eight tenets to the enacting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

“Dialogue to Action on the Prevention of FASD” project was made possible by the financial assistance from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.

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Here’s what we know about alcohol & pregnancy

This infographic provides an overview of what we know about alcohol and pregnancy and the kinds of support women deserve.  It was developed with support from Canada FASD Research Network and its Prevention Network Action Team with a goal of promoting engagement between women, partners, providers and communities.

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FASD Prevention: An Annotated Bibliography of Articles Published in 2016

FASD Prevention: An Annotated Bibliography of Articles Published in 2016. Each year Canada FASD Research Network (CanFASD) and CEWH compile published research articles related to FASD prevention from around the world. Download the 2016 Annotated Bibliography here.

Alcohol and Pregnancy Brief Intervention Guides

Alcohol and Pregnancy Brief Intervention Guides
The resources in this section were developed to support service providers to successfully engage with women and their partners on alcohol use, pregnancy, and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). While many aspects of FASD prevention are interconnected, current evidence and practice issues have been synthesized into eight topics that allow service providers to explore issues from different perspectives and that are most relevant to their own practice.

Each topic area includes: a brief overview of recent research findings; practical strategies for addressing alcohol issues with women; online resources for further reading and for sharing with women and their supports; reflection and discussion questions; and referral information for British Columbia.

Click below for each detailed Intervention Guide or download just the 8 infographic posters together in one document.

BIG 1 cover- Who Drinks Alcohol during Pregnancy

1. Who Drinks Alcohol During Pregnancy?

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2. cover- Safest Not to Drink in Pregnancy

2. “It Is Safest Not To Drink During Pregnancy.” What Does This Mean?

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3. cover -Pages from Alcohol Preconception & Contraception

3. Alcohol, Contraception and Perception

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4. cover -Alcohol Pregnancy Treatment & Care

4. Treatment and Care for Pregnant Women who use Alcohol and/or Other Drugs

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5. cover - Alcohol Pregnancy Violence & TIP

5. Pregnancy, Alcohol, and Trauma-informed Practice

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6. cover- Alcohol Pregnancy Partner Support

6. Alcohol, Pregnancy and Partner Support

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7. cover- Girls alcohol and pregnancy

7. Girls, Alcohol and Pregnancy

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8. cover- young-women alcohol

8. Young Women, Alcohol and Pregnancy





Trauma-Informed Practice Resource List

Selection of trauma-informed treatment-related resources and curricula. Some focus solely on trauma-informed practices; others incorporate elements of both trauma-informed and trauma-specific approaches.

One of 3 resource lists on trauma, gender, and substance use made possible by funding from Health Canada.

Download TGS Trauma-Informed Practice Resource list

Gender Transformative Resource List

TIGI Gender Transformative resource imageOverview of gender transformative resources compiled in 2016.

One of 3 resource lists focusing on gender, trauma and substance use. Made possible by funding from Health Canada.

Download TGS Gender Transformative Resource list

Gender Informed Approaches to Substance Use Resource List

TIGI SubUse pictureAn overview of gender-informed resources in the substance use field.

This is one of 3 resource lists focusing on gender, trauma and substance use, and has been made possible by a financial contribution from Health Canada.

Download  TGS Gender Informed Approaches to Substance Use resource list

“I love it because you could just be yourself” – A Study of Girls’ Perspectives on Girls’ Groups and Healthy Living

girls-group_final-report-2012The British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health partnered with the Girls Action Foundation, and researchers from the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence, York University and the University of Montreal on a study of Girls’ Perspectives on Girls’ Groups and Healthy Living.

View Final Report

How Girls’ Groups Can Promote Health

Promising Practices for Girls' GroupsThis resource was developed by the BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and the Girls Action Foundation following a research project on the ways girls’ groups can support and promote healthy living.

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