Working with the Wounded Self: Trauma and Substance Use Disorders

April 10, 2018

The 2018 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference will be held next month on Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 May with optional workshops on Wednesday 30 May at the QT Gold Coast.

Dr Lynne Magor-Blatch, Executive Officer and Honorary Principal Fellow at the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association and Faculty of Social Services, University of Wollongong joins us at the Conference to discuss Working with the Wounded Self: Trauma and Substance Use Disorders’.


‘Trauma’ has been variously over the centuries, but not always well understood. It was not until the veterans of Vietnam began returning home that the effects of trauma began to be recognised and incorporated into the psychiatric literature. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders Third Edition (DSM-III) in 1980. Around this time, PTSD was also included in the European International Classification of Diseases.

Early trauma can leave a lasting imprint on the developing brain. The younger the child, the more vulnerable their brain is to the effects of trauma. Exposure to traumatic experiences, especially those occurring in childhood, has been linked to substance use disorders (SUDs), including abuse and dependence. These disorders are also highly comorbid with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) other mood-related psychopathology, and dissociative disorders.

While 69% of adults in normal populations will experience a serious traumatic event at some stage in their lifetime (Norris, 2005), the numbers accessing AOD services are recognised as being much higher – and for males as well as females. Co-occurring PTSD symptoms and substance use is a common co-morbid picture, often exacerbating other related symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health presentations.

These clients may have complex presentations, together with strongly developed coping mechanisms which may be viewed as negative or antisocial – and to which we as therapists have been trained towards change. Working with the wounded client provides an opportunity to view substance dependence through a different lens, and suggests mechanisms of substance addiction as well as pathways to improving prevention and treatment.


KEYNOTE SPEAKER Lynne is the Executive Officer with ATCA, Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong and a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist. Lynne has a long history in the AOD and Mental Health fields, commencing with Therapeutic Communities Alpha House and the Ley Community in the UK in 1974. She has worked in both the non-government and Government sectors, as a program and clinical director, policy officer, lecturer, researcher and consultant in Australia. In 2010, Lynne was inducted into the National Drug and Alcohol Awards Honour Roll and in 2016 was one of 11 people selected to represent Civil Society at the United Nations General Assembly Special Sitting (UNGASS) in New York on the world drug problem. In her private practice, Lynne works with a range of issues, focusing on complex trauma and trauma-related disorders.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference please visit the conference website.



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