Gender differences in private substance abuse treatment retention

  • Longer stays in alcohol and drug treatment lead to better post-treatment results.
  • Factors leading to a successful stay in treatment seem to differ by gender.
  • For women, staying in treatment was predicted by being unemployed, being married, having higher incomes, and having lower levels of psychiatric severity relative to those who dropped out.
  • For men, staying in treatment was predicted by being older, receiving employer pressure to enter treatment, and having a goal to abstain from drinking and drug use.
Longer stays in alcohol and drug treatment are related to better post-treatment results. However, much of the previous research on treatment retention has examined public alcohol and drug treatment programs. Additionally, few studies have examined gender-specific reasons for treatment retention. Based on these facts, a study in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research takes a new look at treatment retention: it identifies gender-specific predictors of substance abuse treatment retention in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

"Just as one or two treatments for cancer is not sufficient," explained Jennifer R. Mertens, a researcher with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program and lead author of the study, "having a few visits to alcohol and drug treatment is less effective than treatment over a longer period of time. Much of alcohol and drug treatment is about learning new behaviors and coping styles - learning new, more effective ways to cope with family/work problems, learning how to communicate more assertively, and education regarding the harmful medical consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. Accordingly, reinforcement over a longer time period is beneficial. In addition, a longer time in treatment allows people to develop social support systems and friendships among people who are not drinking and/or using drugs, and who support their recovery."

"Substance use disorders develop o

Contact: Jennifer R. Mertens
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

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