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Specialized harm-reduction and treatment programs


Nancy Poole, a researcher for the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women in Vancouver, told more than 100 delegates at the conference’s opening session that women need specialized harm-reduction and treatment programs to meet their unique needs.

“A huge obstacle was the lack of recognition for the need for women-specific and women-centred responses and real commitment to action on that,” Poole said.

As many as 80 percent of women entering treatment programs also have histories of being abused or assaulted, and many use drugs or alcohol to try to cope, delegates were told.


Different Clinical Treatment for Women Needed


Women who smoke or drink can get more serious diseases and have poorer outcomes than men of the same age, Greaves said.

“That means we actually do have the need for different clinical treatment for women,” she said.

Women tend to suffer more early childhood sexual abuse and violence than men and that also has to be integrated into treatment programs, Greaves added.

Women with addictions may not seek help because they’re worried about losing custody of their children, she said.

“Women who are pregnant and addicted are vilified by society,” Greaves said, and that needs to change.

“Even if there are so-called treatment programs available for them, or information, they don’t go to them. They don’t go to them because they’re afraid, ashamed, and they feel guilty.”

Nancy Bradley, Executive Director of the Jean Tweed Centre in Toronto, said there have only been substance abuse programs specifically for women in the last 20 years.

“The trauma that women suffered through sexual or physical abuse wasn’t understood or factored into the way they were treated for addictions,” she added.

“We now understand how trauma interplays with the issues of substance use for women,” Bradley said.

Last Updated: Monday, November 26, 2007 | 9:55 AM ET, The Canadian Press.

Retrieved 05 August 2008 from