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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

Refugee Trauma and Addictive Behaviours: Treating Clients Consuming Drugs and Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism

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Prof Katherine Mills
NHMRC Senior Research Fellow
University of Sydney

Mirjana Askovic
Psychologist/ Neurofeedback Coordinator, STARTTS

Refugee survivors of torture and trauma have usually experienced cumulative and intense traumas as well as multiple losses in the course of dislocation, migration and resettlement. It follows that refugees can have complex presentations including complex PTSD and prolonged and complicated grief. A sizable group have a comorbid disorder, with the most common comorbidities being depression, anxiety, alcohol addiction, and substance abuse. The presence of comorbidities in the context of PTSD creates significant challenges for clinicians, not least due to the reliance on mood altering substances to manage the effects of trauma and loss. In this Clinical Master Class, held on 31 March 2021, Professor Katherine Mills spoke about improving our understanding of the relationship between mental and substance use disorders. In particular, Prof Mills focused on the co-occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use. Mirjana Askovic, the coordinator of Neurofeedback team and the director of Australian Neurofeedback (NF) Institute, illustrated STARTTS’ work with a case study of one of her clients utilising NF as a part of an integrative approach to the treatment of trauma, addictive behaviour and substance abuse.

View the two lectures and panel discussion by clicking on the course content below. When you are finished you can request the system send you a certificate of completion. The slide PDFs are available in the Materials tab.

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