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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

Women, Trauma & Addiction

PTSD.jpgThere are a number of issues to keep in mind when working with survivors who are dealing with substance abuse and when considering referrals for substance abuse treatment in the context of ongoing domestic violence. Understanding the role of abuse and trauma in initiating and sustaining a survivor’s use of substances as well as the role substance use plays in a survivor’s life are important for ensuring that treatment is tailored to her or his needs. Regardless of origin, substance use provides additional opportunities for control by abusers and additional safety risks for survivors. By partnering with substance abuse providers in their communities, advocates can play an important role in ensuring that services are attentive to these concerns. For more information on these issues, see the NCDVTMH Tipsheet on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coercion.


In this video, Dr. Stephanie Covington, author of Helping Women Recover—A Program for Treating Addiction Facilitator's Guide & A Woman’s Journal shares her story and reviews the goals of her work to integrate theories of women’s psychological development, trauma, and addiction to meet the needs of women with substance-use disorders.

Helping Women Recover is a comprehensive, integrated curriculum for treating women with histories of addiction and trauma. It is based on the Women’s Integrated Treatment model (WIT) and is grounded in research, theory, and clinical practice. The foundation of the WIT treatment model is the integration of three theories: a theory of addiction, a theory of women’s psychological development, and a theory of trauma. The therapeutic strategies include psycho-educational, cognitive-behavioral, expressive art, and relational. The philosophy of the evidence-based program materials is consistent with the elements of a women-centered treatment model. The facilitator’s manual for the seventeen-session program is a step-by-step guide containing the theory, structure, and content needed for running groups. A Woman’s Journey, the participant’s workbook, allows women to process and record the therapeutic experience. The program model is organized into four modules that reflect the areas that recovering women have identified as triggers for relapse and as necessary for growth and healing. The materials are designed to be user-friendly and self-instructive. This allows the HWR program to be implemented by a staff with a wide range of training and experience. Helping Women Recover is a good resource for domestic violence agencies that want to include more comprehensive services. It is best facilitated by an experienced advocate with group skills or by someone with clinical experience.