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Parenting issues for women with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders who have histories of trauma

Women, Co-Occurring Disorders and Violence Coordinating Center

Discusses the need for treatment programs that address women’s roles as mothers for women with co-occurring substance abuse, mental health, and trauma issues. Notes that a large number of women with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders (as well as a history of violence) are also mothers of dependent children. Describes how many treatment models are based on women as individuals, not as parents, even though many of these women value their roles as mothers. Cites statistics showing that many residential drug and mental health treatment programs do not accept pregnant women or mothers with children, and others lack child visitation policies and exclude children with behavior problems. Describes how co-occurring disorders and history of trauma can adversely affect parenting. Discusses how treatment for this population of women can be improved through focusing on strengths, acknowledging women’s roles as parents, strengthening parenting skills, and providing comprehensive, coordinated services for mothers and children.