There has historically been a gap in our understanding of how women experience substance use disorder and recovery. In particular, researchers have not included women in most studies. Recently, studies have started to focus on factors related to sex and gender that influence the effects of substance use and treatment outcomes.
Women with substance use disorder are more likely to have experienced domestic violence, rape, incest and childhood physical, sexual and emotional abuse. They are also more likely to seek and stay in treatment when women-only services are available. Yet few treatment programs are available specifically for women. Evaluation of substance use treatment programs have not included women or excluded those with psychiatric disorders.
Researchers looked at the research on integrated and gender-responsive treatments for both substance use and mental health/trauma. Gender-responsive treatment is an approach specifically designed to address women's needs and that reflects an understanding of the realities of their lives. Integrated treatment refers to programs that deliver both substance use and mental health treatment concurrently by the same individual or team.