Substance Abuse Treatment Retention Among Women

There are certain variables in the care for women that need to be specifically addressed in a treatment environment.
Treatment retention often refers to the length of stay of a patient in a drug or alcohol treatment facility.

Their length of stay in a facility can be measured in months, rather than by the number of sessions.  Although, historically, literature has equated that treatment retention (length of stay) has served as one of the most viable predictors of post-treatment outcome; there remains limited research that shows a specific relationship between retention and the outcome among women who suffer with substance abuse problems.

While women are as likely to engage in substance abuse treatment as men, there are certain variables in the care for women that need to be specifically addressed in a treatment environment.  Women’s treatment issues (including the role of family and partners), parenting issues (including pregnancy and children) and co-exhibiting medical disorders (anxiety, mood or eating disorders) are all likely to exhibit in women patients and need to be addressed during the course of treatment.  Consideration should also be given to trauma-related symptoms in women that often accompany their substance abuse disorders.  Among women, these and other factors have been identified as direct influences or predictions of retention.

The common factors that typically influence or predict retention among clients, in general ,include psychiatric symptoms, their drugs of choice, levels of motivation, criminal history, as well as class, race and ethnicity.  For women, especially, support from a partner during their treatment and recovery can be a contributing factor to their long-term sobriety success.  Studies have suggested that including a partner, with behavioral couple’s therapy associated with abstinence, as well as family therapy, can be an effective retention component. 

Clinical experience supports that women who abuse substances benefit from supportive therapies.  With an availability of warmth, empathy and the ability to stay connected during treatment crises, their retention outcomes are more positive.  Women need a treatment environment that is supportive, safe and nurturing, along with a therapeutic relationship of mutual respect, empathy and compassion.  Less aggressive approaches that are based on awareness, understanding and trust are more likely to effect change.  In an atmosphere of acceptance, hope and support they are provided with a foundation to productively work through their recovery challenges.

A treatment facility offering an environment that includes a caring, compassionate and experienced staff, along with highly-qualified counselors and therapists can contribute to a lengthier and more successful retention for women patients.  With appropriate individual and partner/family counseling, matched with cutting-edge treatment modalities, can all contribute to a longer retention and sober lifestyle for recovering female addicts.

Distributed by Client Initiatives

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