New Resources for Collaborative Conversations on Substance Use with Girls and Women

Two new resources are available for health and social service providers to assist them in providing brief intervention on substance use with women and girls. Both were introduced in a June 4th Webinar on the Dialogue to Action on Discussing Alcohol with Women project. The research and consultation arising from this project promote a broader use of brief intervention, in the form of conversations about the health effects of substances and women’s relationship to substance use, not only case finding for problematic use. This is particularly relevant in the context of alcohol use in pregnancy, where any drinking, not only harmful substance and addiction is of concern.

During 13 regional meetings across professions and practice approaches, a common theme emerged:

In general, clinical guidelines recommend that screening be conducted with all women, and that service providers should continue to provide additional information or conduct brief interventions with only the small percentage of women who “screen positive.” This was seen as focusing on women’s behaviour in a way that might be perceived as judgmental or stigmatizing (e.g., “Yes, you are at risk because of _____”) and limiting opportunities to discuss issues connected to women’s substance use (e.g., mental wellness, gender-based violence) with all women. –excerpt from “Doorways to Conversation”

Service providers emphasized that brief interventions were valued as an opportunity to develop open and ongoing dialogue about substance use and interconnected health concerns, whereas screening tools tended to use close-ended questions (e.g., yes/no, # of drinks) and be focussed narrowly on substance use, in ways not necessarily suited to their setting. Doorways to Conversation: Brief Intervention on Substance Use with Girls and Women offers adaptations that providers from a variety of professions and practices can use to begin or enhance their conversations with girls and women. In this way curiosity and learning about the effects of substances can be increased in helpful, non-stigmatizing ways.

50 Brief Intervention Ideas for Dialogue, Skill Building, and Empowerment is an excerpt from the previous resource and serves as a quick reference for providers. The 50 ideas are grouped together according to service type and illustrate how brief interventions can become a natural part of good overall care in a variety of settings: primary care, preconception care, prenatal care, sexual health, anti-violence services, and with various groups: girls and young women, and women and their partners.

With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and FASD National Strategic Project Fund, project goals were to reduce stigma, support engagement in further care and treatment, and improve the overall health and well-being of girls and women. Project evidence summaries and resource lists provided a baseline for discussions on current practices of providers, opportunities to expand brief intervention across roles and profession, and ways to align with child protection practice/policies and perinatal data gathering.

See earlier posts on these topics:



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