Patient Care > Trauma Informed Care

Trauma Informed Care

People with SUDs often suffer trauma related to past events (physical/emotional/sexual abuse, interactions with the healthcare system, stigma, homelessness, etc.). Being in the clinic or hospital can retraumatize people with SUDs. Trauma Informed Care is an evidence-based approach to deliver healthcare in a way that recognizes and responds to the long-term health effects of the experience of trauma in patients’ lives. Below are resources to learn more about integrating trauma informed care into your own practice.

  • Patients with SUDs are significantly more likely than the general population to have a history of trauma. Positive interactions with patients with SUDs can provide a bedrock of safety and trust.
  • Create a welcoming and safe environment for patients as hospitals in general can be a challenging place for patients with SUDs
  • As much as possible do not stand over patient, rather sit with patient meeting patient at eye level.
  • Be sure to clearly identify who you are and what your role is
  • Allow patients agency and choices regarding treatment when at all possible
  • Ensure patients are aware that you are collaborating with them towards a solution or goal that the patient wants and desires.
  • Words matter. Use person centered language. Avoid using "addict," "clean,” dirty," "med seeking." Rather, use language such as “a person with a substance use disoder,” “urine toxicology is positive (or negative),” “experience symptoms of cravings and withdrawal,” etc.


Harvard Health Blog:

Trauma-informed care: What it is, and why it’s important

by Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Contributing Editor

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