Barriers to Accessing or Completing Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Women

Women face distinct obstacles when it comes to seeking and/or completing treatment for a substance use disorder. Knowing these obstacles can help raise awareness, reduce the stigma, and hopefully increase solutions.

Women are more likely to be judged harshly. Powerful feelings of shame and guilt deter women from seeking help for addiction, even when their lives depend on it. Women downplay their problem for fear of negative judgment 3 Women are less likely to seek and access treatment if their partner is unsupportive. The stigma attached to SUD can be stronger for women. - even more so for mothers. Women tend to have more family responsibilities than men. Other common barriers to help for women include:  childcare responsibilities lower wages/less income  substance misuse by a partner or other family members fear of losing custody of children lack of access to resources feeling unworthy of help

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, please reach out to a PreventEd counselor here, or by calling (314) 962-3456.


This particular list of challenges for women seeking or completing treatment for substance use disorder was collected using the information below.

(2011). Women and Addiction, with a Focus on Veterans [Boston University School of Medicine]. VA Boston. 1

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 51. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4426. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2009. 2,4,5

Iliff, B. (2016). Women, Addiction and Recovery: Unique Challenges of Women. Hazelden Betty Ford. 3

Greenfield SF, Back SE, Lawson K, Brady KT. Substance abuse in women. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Jun;33(2):339-55. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2010.01.004. PMID: 20385341; PMCID: PMC3124962. 4

Green, C. A., Ph.D., M.P.H. Gender and Use of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism5

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