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Women, Addiction, and Mental Health: The Vulnerable Population

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The need to consider treatment issues and characteristics of women as a select population in treatment has become critical, as both research and clinical evidence have identified gender-specific risk factors, accelerated progression, and comorbidities particular to women. The white paper from Union Institute & University's Associate Dean of Graduate Psychology, Dr. Jerry Fishman, “Women, Addiction, and Mental Health: The Vulnerable Population” addresses biological, hormonal, psychological, and social factors which increase the susceptibility of women to addiction and mental health disorders, including:

  • The cultural environment of women as a risk factor for substance use disorders
  • The increased prevalence of co-occurring mental health disorders precipitating and prolonging substance use
  • Gender differences that influence drug sensitivity and accelerate disease progression in women

Related prevention and intervention strategies to enhance women’s benefits from treatment programs, including gender-responsive treatment recommendations, are discussed.