Monthly Archives: April 2014

Pregnancy, Advocacy, Gender & LGBT

Pregnancy: Does that change my approach?

As it stands, addiction is already a complex disorder to deal with due to the varying factors that contribute to addiction (e.g. families, addicted partners, co-occurring disorders, and disabilities). However, when viewing addiction from a biological standpoint, the addict is only harming oneself.

The aforementioned could be exposed to another layer of complexity if the addict is responsible for another human being, particularly, through pregnancy. One of the complexities is that the addiction can no longer be singled out to having negative impacts and consequences on the addict solely. This complexity spreads itself, at least biologically, to the unborn child as well. This could cause the unborn child to become exposed to addiction and great difficult during birth and for the rest of their life. This layer of complexity would alter my treatment approach. I usually like to take the approach of using therapeutic techniques and interventions without the utilization of medication (or as less as possible). However, in this case, I would want to look at substance abuse treatment using a medication-assisted approach. This would be mostly to assist the mother in minimizing the risk of obstetric complications. As a counselor, working with this population could bring up some personal experiences that I have with a cousin who was born addicted to drugs. Still, I would have to work through my issues outside of the counseling session and acknowledge the risks that a client may experience through this behavior. Therefore, I would speak openly with clients using psychoeducation to address possible risks such as severe obstetric complications, long-term pediatric and neonate risk for the child, and even death for an addicted child. This would be difficult to do. Yet, if a client continued to use drugs or drink heavily, I would be more inclined to advocate for the unborn child in this circumstance.

Advocacy: The road less traveled?

As a counselor-in-training, I have not seen much advocacy for the population that I serve. Therefore, it means a lot to me to be able to advocate for the clients at my practicum site and substance abuse users alike. I believe that advocacy helps to make a difference and to give issues a voice that everyone is too afraid to tackle. Advocacy also helps clients to feel like they are supported and heard throughout their recovery.  I am actually enjoying my role as an advocate in my practicum site. However, I will acknowledge that I did not expect to take on this role as a counselor. However, as a counselor, I think that it is imperative to advocate for all clients, no matter the population because sometimes clients do not know how to advocate for themselves. Therefore, there are no groups that I see as harder or easier to advocate for. This is due to the fact that I am a firm believer that everyone should be treated equally. Unfortunately, that equality is not always present in our current society. Therefore, advocacy is important to bring equal rights to all individuals no matter if they are a substance abuse user or a schizophrenic. In my opinion, mental health still has a long way to go because there is such a stigma associated with it and society labels it as a “bad” thing due to this reason. Ultimately, I think that advocacy is imperative to alleviate the stigma that mental health has and even less obvious subject matters such as addiction, gender, and the LGBT community.

Gender & LGBT: 4 ways to learn more!

March of dimes: This website is essential to assisting woman as it relates to pregnancy and healthy babies. The website offers a plethora of information on understanding how to have a full-term baby and any potential problems that could impact the health of babies. More specifically, this website offers videos and a lot of information on smoking, alcohol, and drugs while pregnant. For example, the website informs mothers of the types of drugs that they should avoid and the fact that serious medical problems could take place during pregnancy due to the passing of these substances to the baby through the umbilical cord and the placenta. Overall, this site is very helpful to pregnant woman, especially those that need information on substance abuse while pregnant.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG):  This website is essential to LGBT issues in addictions counseling because it provides a platform for education and advocacy as it relates to parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays. This website provides education around respect in the school and suggestions and strategies for seeking equality in this community for all. Likewise, this website gives its viewers the opportunity to take action through viewing issues in legislation, election, and candidates. Finally, this site acknowledges issues such as relationship recognition, family acceptance, workplace fairness, safe school, military, hate crimes prevention, and health.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):  This is a resource used to “reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities” ( However, more specifically, this site provides professional, healthcare provides, and educators with current health issues among the LGBT community through a resource kit. This kit is free of charge on the SAMHSA website. It provides terms and definitions (e.g. two-spirit versus transsexual) to the aforementioned individuals on behalf of the LGBT community. The kit breaks these top health issues down by lesbians, gay men, bisexual men and women, transgender people, etc. This breakdown examines physical health, such as heart disease, cancer, behavioral health, such as mental health, and sexual health, such as STDs. All of this information is essential when working with the LGBT population.

Women, Girls, and Addiction: Celebrating the Feminine in Counseling Treatment and Recovery: This website gives a synopsis of a book by Cynthia A. Briggs and Jennifer L. Pepperell that speaks to treatment approaches and interventions specialized for women that are addicted. The book provides an overview of woman, girls, and addiction from a historical perspective and the feminist theory as it relates to addictions counseling. The text also acknowledges the biopsychosocial issues related to this topic. Finally, information related to prevention, treatment and relapse prevention across the life span is outlined for women and girls that are dealing with addiction.







Attitude & Experiences towards drugs

As a child and a teen: What did I think?

I cannot remember much about my childhood and substances other than the fact that I come from a family that loves to party and enjoy themselves. Therefore, I never thought that the use of alcohol or “weed’” was a bad thing. This was mainly due to the fact that the adults in my life were still able to maintain a level of functionality while indulging in these substances. 

“Hey Ayzha! Would you like a glass of wine?”. At the age of 15-16, I was asked this question by my older family members. I grew up in an environment where children were able to drink under the legal age as long as it was in confounds of a family member’s home. Therefore, these experiences shaped my attitudes towards substances when I was a child and an adolescent. As an adolescent, I thought that substances, like alcohol, were okay to consume as long as I was being monitored by an adult.

To High School and College and beyond

Once I got to high school, I do not remember too many substances being around. If I did attend a party full of my peers, there was normally alcohol or weed there. As far as the alcohol, I never indulged because I knew that I was under age and I knew that I was not in a comfortable environment with my family in the event that something happened to me. I did not indulge in smoking weed because I didn’t like the smell of it.

Once, I got to college, I was over drinking and partying because I was allowed to be “kinda” free at family events in these departments. I was able to be around friends that partook in substances but I never had a desire to indulge. My philosophy was “that’s not for me, but I won’t judge someone else that wants to do it.

So today and in the future, my views are pretty much the same. Therefore, I do not think that it would be difficult to work with a client that decided or decides to make a choice different from my own. I try my best to be as non-judgmental as possible when dealing with clients and it would be no different in this scenario.

 Advice! Advice! Advice!

I was taught that alcohol is okay to indulge in as long as you don’t go overboard with it. However, I cannot remember a specific time when someone actually told me not to do drugs. I think it was just an unspoken understanding in my family that we understood the impact that drugs would have on our lives. Therefore, I have always understood alcohol to be something that is used in moderation and that it does not look good to over indulge in it. I have also understood that drugs are not acceptable and should never be touched. I think the freedom that my family allowed has always discouraged me from drinking a lot, if any at all. It almost feels like the thrill that I needed to understand and feel was fulfilled in my adolescence and young adulthood. I am unsure of how I will emulate this model as a counselor because it is not my job to promote or encourage drug use. I also have a better understanding of the idea that individuals may be at risk for addictive behavior based on genetics and would never want to be the root cause of such behavior. However, as a parent, I think allowing this type of freedom with my child as my family did with me will assist her in making the wisest choices when not in my presence or the presence of family.