Focusing on Women and Girls

Women who are seeking treatment for drug addiction are faced with specific challenges because many treatment programs are designed for and used mostly by men. Because many traditional treatment programs do not allow for the inclusion of children, a woman may be torn between the need to provide child care and the need for treatment. Further, the child welfare system can complicate a woman's decision to seek care, because admitting to a substance abuse problem may lead to involvement with the criminal justice system and the loss of custody of children.

And it’s not just adult women who are seeking treatment. Research shows us that girls have caught up with boys in the their first-time use of drugs and alcohol. Teenage girls’ drug use is often connected with self-esteem issues, depression, and peer pressure, but often prevention and treatment programming does not address these risk factors.

ONDCP is committed to supporting treatment and recovery services for women and girls, as well as youth-targeted prevention messages to help girls make healthy choices. In the coming year, we will be working our interagency partners to improve intervention and treatment services for female offenders in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, facilitate connections between family treatment programs and Federally Qualified Health Centers to assure access to medical care for women and children taking part in the programs, and promote the use of assessments that identify the needs of and solutions for families involved in the child welfare system.

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