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Why Trauma-Informed, Gender-Responsive, and Culturally Responsive Care Matters

Trauma-Informed Care
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Reviewed by Jessica Cantermen, MSW

Substance use and co-occurring disorders affect more than 7 million Americans, but not in equal measure. Research indicates factors like gender, culture, and past or current exposure to trauma can significantly impact the onset of substance use disorders, access to treatment, and treatment outcomes for impacted individuals.

An effective and inclusive approach to treating substance use disorder (SUD) and co-occurring disorders (COD) requires trauma-informed, gender-responsive, and culturally responsive care. This allows for individualized care throughout the entire treatment process that addresses the unique needs of those seeking help. Keep reading to learn more about each type of care and why it matters.

Looking for long term residential treatment for drug addiction? Gaudenzia provides inpatient treatment for substance use with varying lengths of stay, as well as outpatient services. Please call our 24-hour Treatment and Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP (4357) to connect with a Gaudenzia team member today.

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-Informed SUD Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and SUD often co-occur, with nearly half of individuals seeking SUD treatment meeting the criteria for current PTSD. Studies indicate there is a higher prevalence of PTSD in women than in men. In fact, as many as 80% percent of women seeking SUD treatment meet the criteria for co-occurring PTSD. This often results from traumatic experiences that include sexual assault and domestic violence. Even for individuals without a formal PTSD diagnosis, exposure to traumatic events — including abuse, violence, neglect, discrimination, and other adverse experiences — has been found to heighten the risk for a range of poor physical and behavioral health outcomes.

Trauma-Informed SUD treatment is essential to providing effective care to those impacted by the effects of trauma. A trauma-informed approach acknowledges the complex impact trauma has on the lives of individuals. This approach actively seeks to promote clients’ safety, empowerment, and agency over their own decisions. Trauma-informed care can help improve communication and collaboration between team members and clients, decrease the potential for re-traumatization, and help guide the screening and assessment process to connect clients with appropriate services and resources. 

Culturally Responsive SUD Treatment

Cultural attitudes, treatment expectations, and stigma surrounding substance use and co-occurring disorders can greatly impact treatment experiences and outcomes. Gaudenzia recognizes that a culturally responsive approach to SUD and COD treatment is essential to engaging, retaining, and assisting a diverse client population and reducing behavioral healthcare disparities.

Cultural factors that can impact engagement and retention in SUD and COD treatment include:

  • Religious and Spiritual Beliefs or Attitudes
  • Cultural Values, Beliefs, and Customs
  • The Role and Importance of Community
  • Familial Obligations and Expectations
  • Cultural Tendencies to Favor a Holistic Treatment Approach
  • Cultural Tendencies Toward Self-Blame
  • Cumulative Stress from Historical Trauma, Marginalization, and Discrimination

Gaudenzia is committed to learning about our clients’ world views, values, attitudes, and beliefs, and incorporating this knowledge throughout the treatment process. Our commitment to cultural responsiveness helps our counselors and supporting team members create an optimal, individually tailored, and engaging treatment experience.

Gender-Responsive SUD Treatment

Gender-responsive care recognizes the unique experiences and potential barriers to treatment access a client may experience due to their gender, gender identity, and gender-expression. As an example, ample research shows that women are disproportionately affected by the consequences of SUD, including:

  • The Onset, Type, and Severity of Physical Complications
  • Pregnancy Risks and Birth Outcomes
  • Potential Exposure to Domestic Violence and Trauma

Women also face unique barriers to treatment access, such as the fear of losing custody of their children while seeking and/or receiving treatment. Gender-responsive SUD treatment for women considers factors like the following:

  • Familial and Parenting Responsibilities
  • Screening and Assessment for Trauma History
  • Identifying Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Cultural Expectations Related to Gender Roles
  • Using Pregnancy-Appropriate Medications in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

In 1979, Gaudenzia proudly emerged as one of the nation’s first SUD treatment providers to offer specialized care for pregnant and parenting women. Today we offer a range of treatment services with gender-responsive programming to meet the needs of women, pregnant women, and women with children. Our Pregnant and Parenting Women’s programs allow women to bring their children with them into treatment without disrupting the parent-child relationship.

Evidenced-Based, Person-Centered Care at Gaudenzia

Gaudenzia works with an evidence-based, person-centered treatment model to help individuals and families break the cycle of substance use and co-occurring disorders. Our treatment approach integrates some of the industry’s most studied and validated therapeutic methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI).

Our caring, compassionate team is committed to providing care that is trauma-informed, gender-responsive, and culturally responsive.

If you or someone you love needs help with substance use and co-occurring disorders, please call our 24-hour Treatment and Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP (4357) today.

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