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Research shows that people with substance use disorders are more likely to have a history of trauma and violence than the general population. This can include negative experiences with police and with medical professionals.

On this episode of Addiction Practice Pod, addiction physician Dr. Christy Sutherland and journalist David Ball take a deep dive into trauma and its links to substance use disorder, as well as the concept of trauma- and violence-informed care. As they discuss with their guests, using trauma- and violence-informed approaches with patients is the key to building strong relationships and supporting them to achieve their health goals.


In this episode, you’ll hear:


Here’s what listeners can take away from this episode:

  1. Self-reflection is an important part of clinical care. Ask yourself, what am I feeling today? How do I feel when I see a certain patient? This reflection time can help you incorporate trauma- and violence-informed care into your work. If you can name your emotions and identify how you feel, this can help you to identify what is important to you, what brings you joy, why you enjoy caring for your patients: that human connection.
  2. Providing trauma- and violence- informed care is also about considering the spaces where we offer services and creating welcoming, safe environments and experiences for patients from the moment they walk in the door. This includes all elements of our clinics, from the check-in process, waiting rooms, policies that allow people’s belongings to stay with them, and all staff greeting patients warmly from medical office assistants to health care providers.
  3. Negative feelings are normal feelings: they are telling us something. Remember that you are not the sole person responsible for what is going on in a patient’s life.
  4. We are in this together for the long haul with our patients. Showing up in a productive way for them also means finding compassion for ourselves and our colleagues.
  5. Take note of and use the principles of trauma- and violence-informed care, as outlined in the POATS-P training course listed in the resources below: Avoid re-traumatization; empower patients with choice; work collaboratively and flexibly; establish a relationship of trust.


Online learning



Additional resources