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Trauma and Addiction: Integrating Research into Practice
Original Recording Date :


Course Format

Hybrid: Recorded video-based online activity and reading-based online activity.


Whether you work in addictions or mental health, it is essential that practitioners understand how to create integrated approaches for addiction treatment and trauma treatment. Co-morbidity research has consistently shown high concordance rates between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Use Disorders in community and clinical samples. Up to 95% of those seeking/attending Substance Use Disorder treatment have trauma exposure. Childhood physical, psychological, and sexual abuse are often a pathway to Substance Use Disorders. Research shows that substances are used to reduce the painful emotions associated with trauma. Treating one problem without treating the other can result in a vicious cycle of continued substance abuse, continued high risk behaviors, and difficulty alleviating PTSD symptoms.

In order to integrate workshop content and address the varied training needs of participants, content will focus on an overview of addictions, overview of trauma and then move into a focus on their relationship and treatment approaches and tools for and integration in treatment. The instructor presents from the philosophy of the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) “No Wrong Door” with a conviction that each practitioner needs to understand addictions and trauma, and how to create integrated service planning and treatment.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the links between addiction and trauma;  
  2. Describe how to assess addiction and trauma; 
  3. Recognize the effects of trauma on the recovery process; 
  4. Recognize the research that is impacting current practice;
  5. Identify ways to integrate trauma work into the recovery process to maximize the potential for helping individuals move toward healthy functioning.

Research:  SAMSHA produces and provides a number of publications on substance use and mental health.  Google Scholar provides links to a number of research studies on trauma and addiction.

Target Audience: social workers, mental health practitioners, creative arts therapists, marriage and facility therapists, psychologists, addiction professionals, case managers, and other interested individuals.

Customer Service

We are happy to respond to any concerns or questions you may have. Please contact us at by email at sw-ce@buffalo.edu or by phone at 716-829-5841.

ADA Accommodations: If you require any support for your ADA needs in the United States, please contact us by email at least 3 weeks prior to the event by email at sw-ce@buffalo.edu or by phone at 716-829-5841.


Charles Syms, LCSW, ACSW

Charles Syms, LCSW/ACSW, is a clinical associate professor who has been a faculty member in the University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work since 1998. Presently, his assignments include classroom instruction, primarily to students interested in the alcohol and other drug specialization.

 Professor Syms has over 35 years of professional social work practice. His experience includes work in child welfare, domestic violence, forensic mental health and substance use disorders. He has held numerous positions, including child protection worker, child protection clinical consultant, prison psychiatric social worker, supervisor on an in-patient chemical dependency unit, domestic violence specialist and group leader, child welfare program director, and a leadership role in coordinating two community-based, university/public school collaboration violence prevention projects.

Additionally, Professor Syms shares his experience and expertise as a member of agency-based and professional advisory boards at the local, state and national levels.

A past National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Minority Research Fellow, Professor Syms’ current teaching and research interests include the treatment of individuals with substance use disorders, particularly the impact of alcohol and other drugs on people with mental health problems and those involved with child welfare system, as well as extending education into the on-line environment.


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