Journal Article
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
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Gender differences among prisoners in drug treatment.

PURPOSE: Nearly all prison-based substance abuse treatment programs have been designed with male prisoners in mind. Administering these male-oriented programs to women prisoners has been the standard correctional practice. Recently, this practice has received considerable criticism. Critics argue that female prisoners have special needs that are not met by programs originally designed for male prisoners. However, most of the empirical support for the existence of such special needs rely on two inappropriate samples: prisoners who are not in treatment and treatment participants who are not incarcerated. Findings from these two different groups may not be generalizable to the population of prisoners in treatment.

METHODS: This paper directly addresses this generalizability problem with an examination of gender differences among 1,326 male and 318 female federal prisoners who were enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program.

RESULTS: Women used drugs more frequently, used harder drugs, and used them for different reasons than men. Women also confronted more difficulties than men in areas linked to substance abuse such as educational background, childhood family environment, adult social environment, mental health, and physical health.

CONCLUSION: We find support for the argument that substance abuse treatment programs which were originally designed for men may be inappropriate for the treatment of women.

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