Bridging the Gap in Women’s Substance Use Services: A Trauma-informed, Gender-Responsive, and Anti-Oppressive Approach
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Over the last decade, there has been an increase in trauma-informed substance use services, but a gap still exists between theory and practice. The majority of substance use services lack a gender-responsive and anti-oppressive approach, that specifically addresses the intersectional violence, oppressive barriers, and diverse experiences of women and femmes. Historically, traditional substance use services and 12-step programs were created for the needs of men, leaving out the experiences and realities of women. Women hoping to receive support and a safe space to heal in such programs often experience patriarchal barriers, retraumatization, misdiagnosis, and stigma. These treatment models often tell women how to heal instead of giving them agency over their own path to recovery. This capstone explores the question: How does bringing a gender-responsive, anti-oppressive lens to integrative trauma-informed substance use services promote positive therapeutic outcomes for diverse women in recovery? It will review the current literature on the connections between trauma, gender-based violence, substance use, and mental health to better understand the needs of women in recovery. It will examine traditional and conventional substance use treatment models and propose a 16-week integrative trauma-informed recovery program drawing from feminist, narrative, person-centered, and somatic therapies to provide a holistic, gender-responsive, and anti-oppressive approach to women’s substance use challenges.