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.
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  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
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  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.
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  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: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/ijch.v72i0.22447
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  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
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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

 

Talking About Substance Use During Pregnancy: Collaborative Approaches for Health Care Providers

Asking questions about the type, frequency, and amount of substance use is often a routine part of prenatal care for physicians, midwives, nurses, pregnancy outreach workers and other prenatal care providers. Here are some ideas for open, supportive, and effective conversations with women and girls.
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Conversation Starters on Healthy Living for Facilitators of Girls’ Empowerment Groups

These three discussion guides have been developed by researchers at the Centre for Excellence for Women’s Health (CEWH), in collaboration with Girls Action Foundation. They are intended to accompany the Take Care toolkit for girls’ empowerment group facilitators and can be helpful in starting discussions about girls’ health and wellness. They can be downloaded here and featured in girls’ spaces. Developed with the financial support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Healthy Eating is a Girls’ Issue!

 

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Physical Activity is a Girls’ Issue!

 

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Substance Use is a Girls’ Issue!

 
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Grounding Activities and Trauma-Informed Practice

Within trauma-informed organizations and systems, learning grounding activities can be important for clients and service providers alike. This handout offers 10 grounding activities that can be helpful for managing trauma responses.
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Doorways to Conversation: Brief Intervention on Substance Use with Girls and Women

Because substance use has wide-ranging effects on many different aspects of life, service providers across a range of health care and social service settings can have an important role in addressing the potential harms of substance use and improving overall health. This resource focuses on brief intervention with girls and women in the preconception and perinatal period. Service providers from a range of backgrounds will find it relevant to their practice.

English version  French version

Brief Intervention on Substance Use with Girls and Women: 50 Ideas for Dialogue, Skill Building, and Empowerment

Brief interventions are collaborative conversations between an individual and a health care or social service provider about a health issue. This resource focuses on brief intervention on substance use with girls and women in the preconception and perinatal period in addressing the potential harms of substance use and improving girls’ and women’s overall health.

English version  French version

50 Trauma, Gender, and Substance Use Cards

These cut-out cards contain key points from the academic research literature on the intersections of trauma, gender, and sex and its role in substance use services and policies. They were developed for a workshop called “Becoming Trauma- and Gender-Informed” held at the Issues of Substance conference hosted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction in November 2017.
English version  French version

New Terrain: Tools to Integrate Trauma and Gender Informed Responses into Substance Use Practice and Policy


This toolkit provides information about trauma, gender, and sex informed programs, initiatives and projects to share in staff training, program planning and evaluation, and to assist in supporting these approaches in programs and organizations. It also includes specific tools to support practice and policy change. It is one of many publications created as part of the Trauma/Gender/Substance Use Project.

This resource has been made possible by a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

English version  French version

Trauma Informed Practice and the Opioid Crisis: A Discussion Guide for Health Care and Social Service Providers


This discussion guide is intended to stimulate further conversation on “becoming trauma-informed” and assist health care and social service providers in considering additional ways of addressing the opioid crisis in their particular context. It is one of many publications created as part of the Trauma/Gender/Substance Use Project.

This resource has been made possible by a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

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Women and Opioids: Media Guide

This backgrounder on women and opioids is based on research showing that many women are affected differently from men by the opioid crisis and that prevention and intervention approaches require attention to these differences. Includes suggestions for better reporting on women and opioids along with a brief overview of research and trends in Canada.

This media resource was created by researchers at the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health as part of the Trauma/Gender/Substance Use Project and in partnership with the Canada FASD Research Network. CEWH is hosted by BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

Funding for the creation of this guide was provided by Health Canada. The views herein are not necessarily those of Health Canada.
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FASD Prevention: An Annotated Bibliography of Articles Published in 2017

FASD Prevention: An Annotated Bibliography of Articles Published in 2017. Each year Canada FASD Research Network (CanFASD) and CEWH compile published research articles related to FASD prevention from around the world. View the 2017 Annotated Bibliography here.

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