University of Sherbrooke, Canada
Lynda Poirier is the executive director of “Centre CASA”, a treatment center which treats numerous addictions and also has a program for pathological gamblers. Under her guidance and leadership the center developed a unique concurrent disorders program, which is specifically designed for persons wearing or having worn a “uniform” that have addiction and trauma issues. Lynda is also a professor in the addictions program at the University of Sherbrooke. She is one of the leaders of the first conference, held last May (2011) in the Province of Quebec, which invited professionals and peers alike, to participate in an innovative convention. The focus of the convention was on the prevention and treatment of persons “who wear or have worn a uniform” that have concurrent disorders. (i.e police officers, firemen, correctional agents, active military and veterans.) To our knowledge it was the first in Canada. With a master’s degree in social work, she has more than 25 years of experience in the field of addictions and mental health.
Persons who wear uniforms or have worn uniforms that have been traumatized as a result of operational duties often develop co-morbid conditions involving post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addictions, and associated difficulties such as anger and chronic pain. The complex interactions between these conditions can pose treatment challenges. Also, veterans with operational stress injuries can be hard to reach, since military training ensures that soldiers keep their emotions and vulnerabilities from interfering with their work. They are trained to go into offensive action when needed, remain calm and focused during crises, and to solve problems efficiently. To improve access to and engage clients in treatment, it is also essential to address the shame and stigma associated with addictions and trauma. This workshop describes the clinical profile of veterans and others affected by trauma and addictions. Co-morbid conditions and their interactions, which can be overwhelming for clients and clinicians, are also covered as well as the engagement strategies that meet the needs of this population.