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About Women’s Drug Treatment Programs

More than 9 million American women, including upper-middle class moms, illegally use drugs each year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Women who have become dependent on prescription drugs, alcohol or illegal substances, like marijuana or cocaine, often need to enter a drug treatment program. While the financial costs of private programs can be staggering, some moms grappling with substance abuse may be able to gain life-saving help through government funding.


About 32 percent of people admitted to drug treatment programs in 2007 were women, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Women and girls introduced to drugs are far more likely to become addicted than men and often suffer legal and medical consequences, such as arrest and unplanned pregnancies, much more quickly than men.

Treatment Methods

Treatment programs can be either inpatient, which requires a hospital stay, or an outpatient program, according to both the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Programs can be run through private or state facilities and be gender-segregated or coed. Most drug treatment programs for women include individual counseling, group therapy, medical checkups and, in some cases, medications, such as methadone, are prescribed for drug detoxification.

Programs for Moms

Drug treatment programs specifically geared toward women who have children or are pregnant have become more commonplace in the 21st century, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These programs, often called therapeutic communities or TCs, incorporate mothering skills into traditional drug rehabilitation techniques. In such programs, mothers are more likely to live in a house-like setting for six to 12 months, rather than a hospital.

Additional Considerations

Women from all walks of life can become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, especially if child abuse was involved, according to both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. If trauma is behind a woman’s desire to escape pain through substance abuse, her treatment program must include therapy and, possibly, groups, such as Co-Dependents Anonymous and Survivors of Incest Anonymous.

Expert Insight

Drug rehabilitation programs and time away from kids can be scary, but staying hooked on drugs, including prescription pills, is a risky proposition, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Up to 70 percent of American women infected with HIV or AIDS contracted the disease through drug use, whether by sharing needles or engaging in unsafe sex while they were under the influence. Also, children living with drug-addicted moms are more likely to suffer from malnutrition even if the mom would never lay a hand on her child.

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