Celebrating Recovery in September

Celebrating Recovery in September

September is National Recovery Month! Throughout the month, join us as we celebrate the strength and resiliency of Colorado families impacted by substance use disorders. 

With access to resources, treatment, and support, recovery is possible for everyone. Check out the resources below to learn more about the recovery supports available across Colorado!

The Circle of Parents program offers peer support groups for anyone in a parenting and/or caregiving role. Through free group sessions, participants are provided a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental space to discuss the successes and challenges of raising children, share ideas, resources, and support, and build their confidence, skills, and knowledge as caregivers.

“Being here with people that have been through the same things, are going through the same things, it just makes you feel not alone.”

– Amanda, Circle of Parents in Recovery participant

 

There are recovery-specific Circle of Parents groups across the state, including virtual options.

Tough as a Mother is working to decrease stigma around maternal substance use disorder, educate providers, and connect pregnant and parenting mothers to treatment and recovery supports in their communities. 

Tough as a Mother offers resource navigation, peer stories, and a weekly online support group.

Colorado Crisis Services provides free, confidential, professional and immediate support for any mental health, substance use or emotional concern, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. 

Visit their website to read the stories of Coloradoans who reached out for support.

Narcotics Anonymous Colorado

 

Use NA Colorado’s Meeting Locator to find a meeting that is near you works for your schedule.

Stay tuned:

Later in Recovery Month, we’ll take a closer look at Circle of Parents in Recovery and how the program supports parents with substance use disorders and helps families to thrive. 

Don’t miss out!

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It Can’t Just Be Me

It Can’t Just Be Me

Me:  “Will you please go downstairs and turn off the lights you left on in the bathroom, your room, and the den?!”  My Son:  “Why?  Maybe later.” Me:  “Well then let me rephrase it. If you don’t turn off the lights now, you’ll lose your device for the day! It’s not...

Best Practices, Storytelling, and Stigma Reduction: An Update from SuPPoRT Colorado

Best Practices, Storytelling, and Stigma Reduction: An Update from SuPPoRT Colorado

SuPPoRT Colorado, a coalition with the goal of reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and providing multigenerational support for families to thrive, had big successes in 2022. 

We had the chance to speak with Kelli Sutton, a Strategic Initiatives Manager at Illuminate Colorado who provides backbone support for the coalition, about what SuPPoRT Colorado accomplished in 2022, and the goals it is working toward in 2023. 

Looking Back on Four Big Successes in 2022

1. The SuPPoRT Colorado Family Advisory Board launched a quarterly newsletter in 2022 with the priority of centering the stories of families with lived experience.

Caregivers with lived experience are the experts in the space, and sharing their stories is essential in reducing stigma around pregnancy and substance use treatment.

Sign up to receive the newsletter!

Click here to hear from lived experience experts every quarter.

2. The FASD Awareness Work Group completed a training slide presentation about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs).

FASD is a term used to describe a range of effects that can occur in a person exposed to alcohol before birth. Having presented the training in five different settings with multidisciplinary audiences, the FASD Work Group is able to modify the training for the appropriate audience. The training slide presentation is also posted on Illuminate Colorado’s website for easy access and utilization!

Receive the FASD training, presented by the FASD Awareness Work Group!

The training can be modified for any audience. For more information or to schedule a training, reach out to Kelli Sutton at ksutton@illuminatecolorado.org

3. The SuPPoRT Colorado Policy Analysis Work Group created a best practice guide for toxicology testing at birth.

The purpose of the guide is to minimize bias, discrimination, and variability in the use of toxicology testing for pregnant persons and their infants. The guide describes the limitations of, and appropriate clinical indications for, toxicology testing of birthing people and infants affected by substance use.

We know that systemic social, economic, and environmental inequities impact experiences and outcomes related to substance use and pregnancy. Therefore, to ensure that pregnancy and postpartum care is trauma-informed, culturally-responsive, and serves families with dignity and respect, SuPPoRT Colorado has made it a priority to identify ways to reshape the systems, services, and policies it is built upon. Clear practices on the appropriate uses for toxicology testing at birth is a critical step towards effective care for all pregnant and birthing people. 

4. The SuPPoRT Colorado Plan of Safe Care Work Group created a best practice guide for plan of safe care implementation for healthcare and child welfare professionals.

A plan of safe care is designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of an infant with prenatal substance exposure following their release from the care of a healthcare provider, by addressing the health and substance use treatment needs of both the infant and caregiver. The guide offers guidance, support, and recommendations for ensuring appropriate care of the infants and families impacted by substance use following hospital discharge after birth. Created by healthcare and child welfare professionals with the support of a Family Advisory Board of Lived Experience Experts, the guide is focused on supporting implementation across all care teams that serve families.

 

Currently, both best practice guides are in the final draft stage and are being prepared for implementation in 2023. The Work Groups are placing a high priority on utilizing implementation science to ensure the most effective rollout possible. Stay tuned for updates!

Looking Forward: Updates to the Strategic Plan

Even with all of these accomplishments in 2022, SuPPoRT Colorado recognizes that the work to reduce substance use during pregnancy is not done. Thus, their priority areas remain intact, accompanied by the identification of exciting new opportunities for activities and cross-collaboration.

Priority Area #1: Reduce stigma around accessing substance use disorder treatment and recovery supports for pregnancy and parenting people.

How?

➡️ By maintaining and promoting the Perinatal Substance Use Provider Toolkit, Trauma Informed Care webinar series, identifying emerging provider education needs, and designing new provider education resources. 

➡️ By building capacity around storytelling by expanding and strengthening the Family Advisory Board.

➡️ Through a targeted Plan of Safe Care awareness campaign.

Priority Area #2: Ensure systems, and the people who work within them, develop policies and practices with families that support warm handoffs and standardize practices to address inequities.

How? 

➡️ By broadening CHoSEN QIC (multidisciplinary hospital-based improvement teams working collaboratively to achieve measurable improvements) to include practice change opportunities related to all substances.

➡️ By continuing Plan of Safe Care Work Group meetings, in order to support dissemination and implementation of the guide, support regional hospital and child welfare coordination, identify provider education needs, and ensure lived experience and family voice are prioritized in implementation. 

➡️ By collecting data on Early Intervention referrals, which connect families to the resources they need.

Priority Area #3: Build Colorado’s statewide capacity to align efforts, apply lessons from SuPPoRT Colorado’s data, and recognize and respond to emerging needs.

How? 

➡️ By translating SuPPoRT Colorado’s policy priorities into state-level policies through analysis, identifying indicators for successful implementation and reach of programs and policies, monitoring statewide policy and implementation related to substance use and pregnancy, and identifying opportunities for advocacy. 

➡️ By advising on the data and research components of projects related to substance use and pregnancy, creating opportunities for cross-sector collaborative learning and action, supporting the dissemination of project-related recommendations, and building awareness of existing data sources to better leverage data in driving priorities and solutions.

Priority Area #4: Build Colorado’s statewide capacity to identify Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

How?

➡️ By increasing FASD education and training opportunities, creating a FASD Informed Behavioral Health Care Provider List, and cross collaboration between the FASD Work Group and Provider Education Work Group to identify prevention strategies.

Get Involved Today!

Interested in joining a Work Group?

Click here to see the full list of Work Groups and sign up to receive more information!

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It Can’t Just Be Me

It Can’t Just Be Me

Me:  “Will you please go downstairs and turn off the lights you left on in the bathroom, your room, and the den?!”  My Son:  “Why?  Maybe later.” Me:  “Well then let me rephrase it. If you don’t turn off the lights now, you’ll lose your device for the day! It’s not...

It Can’t Just Be Me

It Can’t Just Be Me

Me:  “Will you please go downstairs and turn off the lights you left on in the bathroom, your room, and the den?!” 

My Son:  “Why?  Maybe later.”

Me:  “Well then let me rephrase it. If you don’t turn off the lights now, you’ll lose your device for the day! It’s not like I haven’t asked you to turn them off hundreds of times before. If you would do it in the first place I wouldn’t have to ask you!”

Welcome to an exchange between me and my son, more times than I’d care to admit, in telling him what I want him to do. Why this particular exchange?  Honestly, to save on the electricity bill.  Why in this tone?  Because of how frequently this conversation happens. More on this later.

Can I get an Amen?!  

On the night of my wedding, my brother advised me to, “not sweat the small stuff” in my marriage.  Of course, my brother wasn’t married at the time and that was over 20 years ago. Recently, I’ve heard this said multiple times in various conversations or digital platforms. This can’t be a coincidence, right? I’ve also heard it said in the following way, “what hill are you willing to die on?”  I can tell you this, when I hear these phrases being used it’s easy to receive, but not so easy to act upon. Especially, in the heat of the moment. Can I get an Amen?!  

I am a father who did, self-admittedly, a solid job of raising my children when they were infants, toddlers, and even somewhat into middle childhood. But, it was right about that time when middle school entered the picture that I started to become more of a parental tyrant. My biggest crusade has been to make sure the house is in order, but this has come with a price as it relates to the relationships I’ve had with my children.  

If you know middle-schoolers, this is about the time when they can become a BIT of a challenge in several ways, at least for me. It’s a particular attitude that they bring to the table that can press all of my buttons, including the ones I didn’t even know I had.  

I am a father who did, self-admittedly, a solid job of raising my children when they were infants, toddlers, and even somewhat into middle childhood.

But, it was right about that time when middle school entered the picture that I started to become more of a parental tyrant.

Anonymous

Can I get a Hallelujah?!  

My oldest son is on the FASD spectrum. I’ve put in hundreds of hours educating myself on FASD, after getting a diagnosis, and I can tell you several reasons why a child on the spectrum acts the way they do, and I can give you several ways how to properly respond. Here’s the challenge though, walking the walk is much easier than talking the talk. Can I get a Hallelujah?!  

To my credit, I’ve made some positive strides in parenting my son. Besides the consistency of my mindfulness practice, both he and I see therapists, and his therapist recently reported that he currently feels better about our relationship. Yes sir! I’d like to think it’s because I’m learning how to control ‘me’ rather than being so focused and frustrated on controlling my son.  Don’t get me wrong. I won’t let my son walk all over me, but there comes a time when I need to understand the importance of maintaining a loving relationship with him that will last for the rest of our lives. Nitpicking him in so many ways is not creating that road I want us to travel together. 

Don’t get me wrong. I won’t let my son walk all over me, but there comes a time when I need to understand the importance of maintaining a loving relationship with him that will last for the rest of our lives.

Anonymous

But, It’s Up to Me

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned with FASD is that my son’s actions are due to trauma to the brain, not an intentional act of defiance. But many times, that’s the way I take it, like a personal attack on my leadership. Honestly, in our family of five my son probably has the most tender heart of us all. The last thing he wants to do is hurt me or any other member of our family, we’ll maybe his younger brother just a little- just kidding).

When he doesn’t turn off the lights it’s not to annoy me, but that’s the way I take it. Instead, it’s up to me how I control my tone when I speak to him, and it’s up to me to come up with an idea that might work out better for him to turn them off more frequently than he does, including brainstorming together. To his credit, it’s not just me having to do all the legwork. As he is getting older, he is playing more of a central role in figuring out ways to be at his best in our family dynamic.   

Now, I’m not saying I’ve made it to the mountaintop yet as it relates to being a dad. Matter of fact, I still could be in base camp. But I can honestly say I’m taking steps in the right direction because my son is well worth it.

About the Author

About the Author

Anonymous

This article was written by a father of  four beautiful children, three of whom have been adopted.  He is committed to sharing the experiences of his family impacted by FASD, anonymously, through the Becoming FASD Aware blog series to strengthen families and build awareness.

This photo was taken by the author’s son. while they were on a walk together. 

Colorado Substance Exposed Newborn Effort Name Change: Introducing SuPPoRT Colorado

Colorado Substance Exposed Newborn Effort Name Change: Introducing SuPPoRT Colorado

Our collaborative effort has a new name! Moving forward, the groups that were previously referred to as the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee, Family Advisory Board, and associated Work/Advisory Groups will be collectively known as Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado (SuPPoRT Colorado). SuPPoRT Colorado will continue to work toward the same vision of a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive, under a name that more accurately reflects our mission, values, and the work we do.

Aligning Our Name with Our Mission and Values

Hear from Family Advisory Board and Steering Committee members in their own words why they chose to make this name change:

The name change is important because it has a supportive person center description. I think it is important to keep the recovery from SUD during pregnancy in the title too so that it is also focused on the solution.”

Ashley Miller

Family Advisory Board member

“The new name, SuPPoRT Colorado: Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado, is now inclusive of those who are affected by perinatal substance use throughout their entire lives. Effects of fetal alcohol exposure often require lifelong supports.”

Marilyn Fausset

Parent advocate, FASD Work Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“I really appreciate that the new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” shifts the focus from the newborn’s exposure to the support provided to both the newborn and the parent(s) related to prevention, treatment and recovery.”

Deborah Monaghan, MD, MSPH

Medical Director at Office of Children, Youth and Families-CDHS, Steering Committee member

“The name change reflects our commitment to learning with and from families, providers, researchers, and advocates. The new name better embraces our commitment to data-informed action that is family-led and community-based.”

Courtney L. Everson, PhD

Senior Researcher/Project Director at Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, Data & Research Advisory Group Co-chair & Steering Committee member

“As our work has continued to evolve over the last 14 years, it only seems fitting that our language evolves too. Our new name “SuPPoRT Colorado” better reflects our continued commitment to families across the lifespan.”

Jade Woodard, MPA

Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

“Rising to meet the current needs and opportunities in our state has been core to our collaborative work since the very beginning, and I’m looking forward to the impact we’ll have in this next phase as “SuPPoRT Colorado.”

Kathi Wells, MD, FAAP

Executive Director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, founding Steering Committee Co-chair

The Steering Committee was originally established in 2008 and is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. In 2019, the Family Advisory Board (FAB) to the Steering Committee was formed in order to elevate the voices of families who have experienced, directly or indirectly, the impacts of substance use during pregnancy. A reflection of the shared leadership of the Steering Committee and FAB, changing our initiative’s name to  SuPPoRT Colorado marks an exciting new chapter in our ongoing collaborative efforts to identify and implement strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.  

Beginning in April of 2021, the Steering Committee and FAB began a process to revisit our language and explore a name change to better align our name with our shared mission and values. Over the last year, the FAB and Steering Committee engaged in a process to identify ideas and ultimately choose our new name. Along the way, small ad-hoc groups of Steering Committee and Family Advisory Board members led the thinking with multiple opportunities for members across the effort to weigh in. We’re so grateful and excited to officially launch our new name and logo that was crafted with the input of so many dedicated partners.

Visit the SuPPoRT Colorado webpage to learn more about our history, vision, and mission,  click here to learn more about the current work, and sign up to join the effort here!

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Reflecting on a Year of Supporting Colorado Families Affected by Substance Use During Pregnancy

Reflecting on a Year of Supporting Colorado Families Affected by Substance Use During Pregnancy

What a 2021 we had in our collaborative efforts to move towards a Colorado that equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use during pregnancy and provides multigenerational support for families to thrive! We wish you rest and rejuvenation as the year draws to an end. 

Everyone who contributed to our work this year–whether as a work group co-chair, work group member, or another kind of project collaborator–brought their unique perspectives and commitment to supporting Colorado families. As many of our members shared in our recent member feedback survey, compared to going it alone, we are more effective in achieving our goals together.

About the Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee

The Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns (SEN) Steering Committee was established in 2008 and is a subcommittee of the Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force.

The Colorado SEN Steering Committee is tasked with identifying and implementing strategies for reducing the number of families impacted by substance use during pregnancy and for improving outcomes for families across the lifespan.

The priorities, strategies and activities of the SEN Steering Committee are guided by family voice experiences and leadership. Strategic planning, activity engagement and impact are each data-informed.

Reflecting on Progress We’ve Made in 2021

With the calendar year coming to a close, we wanted to reflect on some of our shared achievements in 2021:

    • Family Advisory Board and Steering Committee jointly developed Opioid Settlement Fund recommendations, which were presented to the Attorney General and Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. We also began to explore a name change to better reflect our vision and values. The Family Advisory Board is also recruiting new members!
    • Data and Research Advisory Group provided recommendations for the Colorado Perinatal Substance Use Data Linkage Project and launched the design of a perinatal substance use data snapshot and outcomes dashboard.
    • FASD Awareness Work Group published a list of Colorado Providers Equipped to Diagnose Under the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Umbrella and conducted outreach to statewide organizations and networks of family-serving professionals in order to increase awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and offer the list of providers as a resource to share with families.
    • Plans of Safe Care Work Group updated the Colorado Plan of Safe Care document to reflect the newest evidence-informed best practices.
    • Policy Analysis Work Group developed a working draft of best practice organizational policy guidance around toxicology testing.
    • Provider Education Work Group developed and hosted an educational series on trauma-informed communication and care.
    • Lastly, in 2021 we launched our webpage–including information about our priorities, a subscription form, and a public calendar. Finally having an online presence feels like a milestone!

What’s on the horizon?

We look forward to what’s to come in 2022, including hiring a strategic initiatives manager focused on behavioral health systems who will support our efforts, and choosing a new name for our collective work. Onwards!

About the Authors

Diane Smith is a mother of three, a parent partner with Denver Parent Advocates Lending Support (DPALS) and chair of the Family Advisory Board to the SEN Steering Committee.

Dr. Kathi Wells, is executive director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and co-chair of the SEN Steering Committee.

Jade Woodard is the executive director of Illuminate Colorado and co-chair of the SEN Steering Committee. 

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It Can’t Just Be Me

It Can’t Just Be Me

Me:  “Will you please go downstairs and turn off the lights you left on in the bathroom, your room, and the den?!”  My Son:  “Why?  Maybe later.” Me:  “Well then let me rephrase it. If you don’t turn off the lights now, you’ll lose your device for the day! It’s not...

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series

“We regularly hear from our colleagues that they recognize the importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to patient care, but very few have had the opportunity to receive formal training on trauma-informed care and communication,” said Dr. Laurie Halmo, pediatrician and toxicologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and co-chair of the Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee work group focused on expanding healthcare provider education resources related to substance use and pregnancy with an emphasis on family leadership and addressing implicit bias. 

Designed by Healthcare Providers, for Healthcare Providers

Now, thanks to Colorado Substance Exposed Newborns Steering Committee Provider Education Work Group and the Colorado Perinatal Care Quality Collaborative, a NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Educational Series designed by healthcare providers, for healthcare providers, is available beginning next Monday. Each session grounded in the perspective of someone with lived experience related to substance use and pregnancy underscores just why this topic is so important.

Anyone who interacts with perinatal patients and their families in a clinical setting, from gynecologists, obstetricians, neonatologists, and pediatricians, to mental/behavioral healthcare providers and social workers, are encouraged to attend. Clinical professionals will walk away with the knowledge and tools to care for individuals in the perinatal period and those who are impacted by substance use in a trauma-informed way that leads to better experiences and outcomes for all. 

NEW Trauma-Informed Communication and Care Provider Education Series 

The educational series includes:

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an overview of the impact of trauma on women’s health, mental health, substance use, and experiences with obstetrical care

Z

effective trauma-related screening questions and practical provider and team approaches to improve communication and trauma-informed care in obstetrical settings

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practical tools for recognizing and reducing stigma and bias in interactions with patients

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practical tools for optimizing brief clinical interactions with individuals impacted by perinatal substance use in a trauma-informed, non-stigmatizing way, including motivational interviewing, attending skills, and the LEAP (Listen, Empathize, Agree, Partner) approach

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