The Betty Ford Center‘s recent newsletter, Findings (Winter 2008), included an article on a study about women-focused substance abuse treatment. The study found that women-focused and women-only treatment groups have long-term, positive outcomes.
Researchers took patients with substance use disorders and randomly assigned them to either a women-focused treatment group, called the Women’s Recovery Group, or a mixed gender group, called Group Drug Counseling. While there were no significant differences in outcomes from the two groups during the first 12 weeks of treatment, differences did occur during the six-month follow-up. Women in the women-only group showed a pattern of continuous reductions in substance use. Participants in the mixed-gender group did not show the same continuous reductions. The study also found that women who were alcohol dependent and assigned to the Women’s Recovery Group had significantly greater reductions in average drinks per drinking day than the Group Drug Counseling participants.
The article noted an underrepresentation of women in most drug and alcohol treatment programs and the “special accompanying issues” most women have, such as childcare responsibilities and past trauma. Because these issues can often be overlooked or discounted in a setting that includes men and women, many women report that an all-female group provides a safer, more comfortable substance abuse treatment environment.
[Greenfield, SF, Trucco, EM, McHugh, RK, Lincoln, M, Gallop, RJ: The Women’s Recovery Group study: A Stage 1 trial of women-focused group therapy for substance use disorders versus mixed-gender group drug counseling. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 90:39-47, 2007.]