Understanding the Risks, Symptoms and Treatment for Substance Use Disorders: What Families Living with FASD Need to Know

Understanding the Risks, Symptoms and Treatment for Substance Use Disorders: What Families Living with FASD Need to Know

Presenter: Kathleen Tavenner Mitchell, MHS, LCADC, FASD United, Vice President and Spokesperson

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Families that are living with addiction disorders are at risk for having children with FASD. Individuals with an FASD are at risk for developing addiction disorders. Many children living with an FASD are adopted or raised in families other than their biological families. Often there is little information provided to the families in helping them to understand and identify a substance use disorder (SUD). This session will provide an overview about the progression and stages of an alcohol use disorder (AUD), the environmental impact of children that are raised in families with active addictions and the family dynamics of both addiction and recovery.  The focus of the session is how education on both addiction and FASD empowers family systems to increase understanding and empathy towards the birth family, reduce the risk for children with an FASD develop an AUD/SUD, improve identification and intervention of addiction disorders and gain a better understanding about treatment options and possibilities.  Attendees will be introduced to the 12 Steps of Alanon and the 12 Steps Revisited for Individuals with an FASD.

About the Presenter

Kathleen T. Mitchell, MHS, LCADC is the Vice President and Spokesperson for FASD United (formerly the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). For over thirty-six years she has advocated for FASD prevention across the globe. She is a noted international speaker on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), Women, Addiction and Stigma. She holds a Master of Human Services (MHS) degree and is a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor (LCADC). She has served as project officer for many government projects that aimed to prevent FASD, reduce stigma and support families and individuals living with FASD.  

During her early career, she developed and supervised programs for women and pregnant women with substance use disorders and their children. She served on the special committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) developing guidelines for the identification and management of substance use disorders in pregnancy and in 2019 presented FASD: A Vision for the Future at the WHO 2nd Alcohol Forum. She has authored numerous papers, handbooks, chapters and curricula on addiction, stigma and FASD. She served as an FASD expert and advised the writers of NBC’s Law and Order; Special Victims Unit to create an episode about FASD. She has been featured in documentaries, news stories, television and other media including: The Doctors (CBS), NBC’s Later Today Show, Self Magazine, Glamour Magazine, BBC Radio, and National Public Radio.  In January, 2016, the Washington Post covered her story and by day three it had been viewed over 8.7 million times, was posted to over 20 other unique websites around the world and trended as the #6 topic on Facebook. In 2004, she founded the international birth mother mentorship program, the Circle of Hope (COH) and most recently founded Recovering Mothers Anonymous (RMA).

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