In the areas of substance abuse treatment and addressing the needs of certain populations regarding substance abuse treatment, gender has been a factor under increasing scrutiny and study. There has been a narrowing of the gap in rates of substance abuse between men and women. Women are more likely to be initiated into substance abuse patterns due to intimate relationships and women progress faster from initiation of drug use to addictive patterns of drug use among other factors.
Despite the trends that are being noted by health professionals, many drug treatment programs have been designed for males. In addition, the treatment approaches in these programs are based on studies done in male populations. The importance of instituting gender specific treatment approaches for women is important in order to take into account the special needs and considerations that are unique to them.
Specific Issues For Women Regarding Drug Treatment
As stated above, the majority of drug treatment centers base their approaches on studies done in male populations. Male clients are more likely to display denial of their drug problems than women and with that in mind, treatment centers often take an aggressive and disciplinary approach. However, women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are more inward in regards to their denial and experience a greater degrees of guilt and shame. Confrontational approaches such as punishments that may be effective in male populations would not be effective for women.
There are also other considerations to take into account. For example, women may not enter drug treatment because of financial concerns, especially concerning child care and finding appropriate arrangements. Also, women tend to hide their addictions due to fear, guilt and the stigma of being a female addict. Finally, women are more likely to be in a relationship in which their partner is also an active substance abuser.