Heavy alcohol use is impacting Canadian women at an alarming rate. A new Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report shows a 26% increase in women who died as a direct result of alcohol use since 2001. Men saw an increase of five per cent in the same time frame.
CBC Calgary looks at some influencing factors, including physiological differences that affect how women metabolize alcohol.
Specialized Treatment for Women with Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders
Access to specialized treatment can play a big role when women are ready to get help. Dr. John Streukens Ph.D., M.Ed., R.Psych., ICCDPD, is a co-occurring disorders expert with 30 years’ experience in the fields of mental health and substance use disorders. “Providing women with quick access to gender-specific addiction treatment is crucial given that we know women develop substance use disorders and related health issues more rapidly than men,” says Dr. Streukens. “Treatment for women has to address their specific biological, psychological, and sociological differences.”
Women face unique challenges when it comes to accessing treatment. Wait times at residential facilities are frequently several months long. In addition, many women can not leave family responsibilities for extended periods. Another challenge faced by women with drug and alcohol use disorders is not having affordable and reliable child care.
Outpatient Treatment Helps Women with Alcohol and Substance Dependence
The CARE (Co-occurring Addiction Recovery Essentials) for Women program began treating women in Calgary in 2016. “CARE addresses the need for an accessible holistic and relational treatment approach. It supports women with alcohol or substance use issues and the mental health or relational challenges that often co-occur,” says Jessica van ’T Hof MC, Clinical Lead at CARE for Women. The program provides psychological testing and assessment, intensive group therapy, Relapse Prevention, and on-site child-minding. “We are seeing some real successes in the CARE model in terms of getting women into specialized treatment in less than two weeks. The outpatient treatment framework also addresses what women are telling us they need.”