The need for women-only treatment services

April 2019
Day, C. A., Coupland, H., Moensted, M., & Burns, L. (2018). The need for more research and considered debate regarding women-only treatment services: A comment on Neale et al (2018). Addiction, 113(9), 1750-1752. doi:10.1111/add.14364

The authors comment on a recent publication by Neale et al which stated: “Women who have complex histories of alcohol and other drug use do not necessarily want or perceive benefit in women‐only residential treatment” (Abstract conclusion, p. 989).

Key points of the commentary:

  • Many of the challenges described were perhaps more attributable to the residential and therapeutic environment and therefore equally as likely in a mixed‐sex service, or indeed any communal living context. These possibilities, however, were not explored adequately by the authors.
  • Women‐only services exist not simply because of a “belief” that women want them, but also out of necessity. A key issue for many women either referred to, or who seek out, women‐only services is child care and protection. Child‐care issues have long been acknowledged as barriers for many women seeking substance use treatment
  • It is both important and necessary to explore women's expectations and experiences of services and the call for more research and critical discussion of research findings is to be applauded. However, the interpretation and conclusions of any qualitative research should reflect the data adequately and reveal the lived experiences of participants and the contexts in which they are created.