April 21, 2015 - The Thunder Bay Drug Strategy is calling attention to the unique needs of women who use substances and are pregnant or parenting. Leaders from various community agencies met today to learn about best practice models around this important issue; an event organized by the Maternal Substance Use & Child Issues Working Group which was formed in response to recommendations in the Drug Strategy around prevention and treatment.

"Numerous factors are linked to substance use and addiction in women," said Doug Kashak HBSW, student researcher and presenter. "Many women living with substance use issues have experienced trauma. They may have lower incomes, the added responsibility of being a single parent, lack social supports or live in inadequate housing. Women are also more likely to use substances as a way of coping. These risk factors combined with the stigma women face related to substance use further contribute to the complexity of accessing services."

The Working Group completed a literature review to identify risk factors and barriers that make women vulnerable to substance use. It also looked at current trends and best practice models. This information will inform the work of the Group as it moves to develop an integrated plan of care for pregnant or parenting women struggling with substance use in the Thunder Bay Region.

This is the Working Group's first professional development event and participants had the opportunity to network with others and reflect on what their organizations can do. "Many mothers are motivated in finding support related to their substance use issues, yet they continuously face barriers." said Aimee Jaun, Chair of the Working Group. "We are hoping this event increases the awareness of best practice models and engages leaders to work collectively to better meet the needs of women struggling with substance use in our community. It's not only about reducing barriers like childcare and transportation, it's about organizations working together to improve the service women receive overall. That means clear care pathways, integrated service provision and advocating for better housing, social supports and a compassionate community. "

The Thunder Bay Drug Strategy is the official community plan to address substance use in Thunder Bay. The Maternal Substance Use & Child Issues Working Group welcomes new members to get involved in this important work.


Contact: Anne Ostrom, Thunder Bay Drug Strategy Coordinator, 625-2942