Gender differences come into play when it comes to treatment for substance abuse. Just as each patient’s needs are unique, and a treatment program must be tailored to address those particular needs, attention also must be paid to the special needs of women. What works for men in treatment doesn’t always work the same way for women. Here’s a look at some of the different needs women have in substance abuse treatment.
Core principles of gender-responsive treatment for substance abuse include:
Recognizing the role and significance of personal relationships in women’s lives.
Addressing the unique health concerns of women
Acknowledging the importance and role of socioeconomic issues and differences among women.
Promoting cultural competency that is specific to women.
Endorsing a developmental perspective.
Attending to the relevance and presence of various caregiver roles that women assume throughout their lives.
Recognizing that culturally-ascribed roles and gender expectations affect society’s attitudes toward women with substance abuse.
Adopting a trauma-informed perspective.
Using a strengths-based treatment model for women.
Incorporating an integrated and multidisciplinary treatment approach for women.
Maintaining a gender-responsive treatment environment across all settings.
Supporting development of gender competency specific to the issues of women.
Treatment experts agree that substance abuse treatment for women needs to be approached from the perspective that includes the context of the woman’s life. These include her relationships with family, extended family, support systems, socioeconomic environment, and the impact of gender and culture.