Women and addiction: a trauma-informed approach

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2008 Nov:Suppl 5:377-85. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2008.10400665.


Historically, substance abuse treatment has developed as a single-focused intervention based on the needs of addicted men. Counselors focused only on the addiction and assumed that other issues would either resolve themselves through recovery or would be dealt with by another helping professional at a later time. However, treatment for women's addictions is apt to be ineffective unless it acknowledges the realities of women's lives, which include the high prevalence of violence and other types of abuse. A history of being abused increases the likelihood that a woman will abuse alcohol and other drugs. This article presents the definition of and principles for gender-responsive services and the Women's Integrated Treatment (WIT) model. This model is based on three foundational theories: relational-cultural theory, addiction theory, and trauma theory. It also recommends gender-responsive, trauma-informed curricula to use for women's and girls' treatment services.

MeSH terms

  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Power, Psychological
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Violence
  • Women's Health*