This K02 application seeks support for a research psychologist to conduct a program of research that (a) translates attachment principles into clinical parenting interventions for substance abusing mothers who are caring for infants and toddlers and (b) tests hypothesized cyclical mechanisms linking maternal exposure to typical parenting stressors, maternal affect dysregulation and risk for relapse to drug use, maternal insensitivity to child emotional cues and child emotional dysregulation. This work has vital implications for the prevention of substance abuse and maladaptive parenting in families affected by maternal substance abuse. Funded by a K23 award for 5 years, the candidate has translated a sophisticated understanding of attachment mechanisms into an innovative approach to treating parenting disorders in substance abusing women. She received funding from NIDA (R01DA17294) to further develop and evaluate this intervention. She has also applied attachment principles to empirical investigation of the relational problems of substance abusing mothers and their children. She now seeks to (1) analyze and interpret her intervention outcomes, (2) design appropriate follow up studies using the NIDA stage model, (3) identify salient therapeutic mechanisms in her intervention approach, (4) examine whether typical parenting stressors increase maternal risk for relapse (5) examine links between maternal substance abuse and delayed recognition of child emotional cues, and (6) examine whether abstinence from drug use can improve tolerance for parenting stress. The candidate will further develop her skills to (a) interpret Stage I findings, (b) design appropriate follow-up intervention research, (c) design studies to statistically analyze therapeutic mechanisms of change, (d) develop research paradigms for measuring maternal response to parenting stressors and (e) develop procedures for measuring maternal thresholds for detecting child emotional cues. During the period of support, her research will include two major efforts: (1) the analysis of process and outcome data from 60 mothers completing a randomized pilot study testing the preliminary efficacy of her attachment-based intervention, and (2) completion of a preliminary study with 40 mothers in which newly-developed parenting stress paradigms will be used to test proposed links between parenting stressors, risk for relapse, caregiving insensitivity and child emotional dysregulation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Human Development Research Subcommittee (NIDA)
Program Officer
Sims, Belinda E
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Yale University
Schools of Medicine
New Haven
United States
Zip Code
David, Daryn H; McMahon, Thomas J; Luthar, Suniya L et al. (2012) Sensation seeking, coping with stress, and readiness to engage in therapy: does ego development influence the psychosocial functioning of substance-abusing mothers? Am J Orthopsychiatry 82:231-40
Suchman, Nancy E; DeCoste, Cindy; Castiglioni, Nicole et al. (2010) The Mothers and Toddlers Program, an attachment-based parenting intervention for substance using women: post-treatment results from a randomized clinical pilot. Attach Hum Dev 12:483-504
Suchman, Nancy E; DeCoste, Cindy; Leigh, Denise et al. (2010) Reflective functioning in mothers with drug use disorders: implications for dyadic interactions with infants and toddlers. Attach Hum Dev 12:567-85
Borelli, Jessica L; Luthar, Suniya S; Suchman, Nancy E (2010) Discrepancies in perceptions of maternal aggression: implications for children of methadone-maintained mothers. Am J Orthopsychiatry 80:412-21
Suchman, Nancy; McMahon, Thomas; Decoste, Cindy et al. (2008) Ego development, psychopathology, and parenting problems in substance-abusing mothers. Am J Orthopsychiatry 78:20-8
Suchman, Nancy; Decoste, Cindy; Castiglioni, Nicole et al. (2008) THE MOTHERS AND TODDLERS PROGRAM: Preliminary Findings From an Attachment-Based Parenting Intervention for Substance-Abusing Mothers. Psychoanal Psychol 25:499-517