Working with women with a history of substance abuse

Australian alcohol guidelines recommend that pregnant women abstain completely from alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding, while smoking or illicit drug use is of course considered a significant health risk at any time. Regardless, substance use is relatively common in Australia and midwives are likely to find themselves faced with addiction or problem substance use among women in their care. The adverse effects of alcohol and other drugs such as tobacco, opioids and psycho-stimulants on fetal development are well known. However many women and their partners may arrive at this special time in their lives without full knowledge of the impact of drug use on themselves and their infants, their treatment options, or sources of support to make the sometimes difficult journey to a drug free existence.

An important first step in assisting women to overcome these problems is identifying problem drug use, however midwives report that this can be an uncomfortable or embarrassing process for both the midwife and her patient. This workshop will introduce participants to appropriate screening instruments and techniques to aid in identifying problem substance use, along with descriptions of common signs and symptoms, and strategies to aid the development of a trusting relationship which aids disclosure.

The 2010 National Household Survey shows that 52% of pregnant women abstained from alcohol in 2010 and that the rate of smoking reduced from 12.6% to 8.1% once women realised that they were pregnant (AIHW, 2011). Those women who abstain due to pregnancy will require assistance with relapse prevention if they are to continue to resist old coping habits throughout the stresses of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum. Others may present to antenatal care with the desire to abstain but in need of education, coping strategies, confidence and support if they are to achieve this goal. As a midwife, you are perfectly placed to provide this support, referral and/or brief interventions to assist women to overcome the burden of addiction along their journey to motherhood.

Use of illicit drugs such as cannabis, stimulants, inhalants and illicit opioids by pregnant women may increase the risk of blood-borne viruses, withdrawal, overdose and neonatal abstinence syndrome, which require specialist skills and knowledge on the part of midwives. Users in this group often find themselves living as part of the drug sub-culture in poor socio-economic circumstances and with vastly increased risks of harm to themselves and their baby. These marginalised women have often encountered discrimination and intolerance from health professionals and may avoid antenatal care as a result. Balancing professional focus on health and child care concerns with empathetic concern for achieving the best possible outcome for each woman can be challenging. Workshop attendees will cover these issues in some depth and can expect to leave this workshop with enhance knowledge, skills and confidence in managing this challenging client group.

This program is suitable for midwives, doulas and childbirth educators, all of whom may be caring for affected women at some time during their pregnancies.

Aims:

This workshop aims to assist midwives, doulas and childbirth educators to:

  • Identify suitable, evidence based instruments to identify substance abuse
  • Recognise the signs and symptoms of substance abuse
  • Understand the nature of addiction and the likelihood of relapse to substance use
  • Understand the needs of illicit substance users
  • Recognise and respond to symptoms of intoxication, overdose and/or withdrawal from common substances
  • Acquire skills in relapse prevention and brief interventions to address substance use
  • Develop appropriate clinical care and referral pathways

Learner outcomes:

On completion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the common physical and emotional impacts of substance abuse
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of substance abuse
  • Address these issues in safe, compassionate and empowering ways
  • Report enhanced confidence in balancing legal, ethical and personal obligations to the mother and her infant
  • Deliver simple, evidence based brief interventions
  • Use mindfulness methods to remain calm, clear and resourceful
  • Refer to appropriate resources

Continuing Professional Development Points

Awarded 6 CPD points by the Australian College of Midwives.

Program:

FULL PROGRAM PDF

Facilitator:

MAXINE OBRIEN


Cost:
$240 - Includes lunch, refreshments, workshop folders and notes.
Student discounts
available

 Registration: 

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Workshop numbers limited.

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