Experts in the substance abuse field have long suspected that women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are not well served by conventional treatment programs, which traditionally have been targeted at men. Indeed, while there are now epidemic numbers of addicted and deformed babies born to women who use drugs and alcohol, only about 20 percent of the addicts in public substance abuse programs in Maryland are female.
One barrier keeping women from treatment is that historically more men have been addicts, and men are more readily identified through criminal activity or activities on the job. As a result, services in coed treatment programs are simply not tailored to the particular health, sexuality and employment concerns of women -- 80 to 90 percent of whom, in addition to their addiction problems, have been victims of rape or incest, few of whom have parenting skills and most of whom have no job skills or employment history. Perhaps the highest barrier, however, is that few treatment programs provide child care.