Prominent among these differences are dependence, co-occurring substance use, and mental health disorders as outlined below:

  • Women may experience different barriers in relation to initiating and completing treatment for a substance abuse disorder as compared to men (Green, 2006).
  • Data suggests an estimated 15-25 percent of female DWI offenders are involved in various sanctions such as interlock programs and DWI courts. However, few research studies have specifically re-examined the effectiveness of sanctions in relation to gender. Some research suggests interventions that increase women’s negative emotions may increase their risk of recidivism (McMurran et al., 2011).
  • Women tend to enter alcohol treatment with a broader set of problems, such as depression and higher BAC levels. Despite this, women have the same rate of relapse as men and more effectively recover from relapse (Walitzer and Dearing, 2006).
  • Many women who enter substance treatment also have mental health issues. The prevalence of co-occurring disorders among females with substance use disorders is higher than that of males and this has been shown to have a negative impact on the response to treatment (Greenfield et al., 2007).
  • On-site child care services can make it easier for mothers to attend treatment (Sun, 2006). It has been found that single-gender treatment may be perceived more positively than mixed-gender treatment (Greenfield et al., 2007).
  • Individual counseling has also been shown to be related to better treatment outcomes for women, specifically when counselors were supportive, non-confrontational, and non-judgmental (Sun, 2006).