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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 388–392 | Cite as

Substance Use Among Women in Shelters for Abused Women and Children

Programming Opportunities
  • Lorraine GreavesEmail author
  • Cathy Chabot
  • Natasha Jategaonkar
  • Nancy Poole
  • Lucy McCullough
Article
  • 1 Downloads

Abstract

Objective

This study explores changes in the use of alcohol and other substances by women in British Columbia as they moved into shelters for abused women and again three months later. We see this time as a key life transition, and potentially a rich opportunity for influencing women’s substance use behaviour. The purpose of this study was to document changes in the level of use of alcohol and other substances and the levels of stress among women as they moved through shelters for abused women.

Methods

Standardized questionnaires augmented by qualitative interviews were employed to measure alcohol and substance use, experiences of abuse, and levels and types of stressors facing women in this situation.

Findings

Significant reductions in women’s use of alcohol and stimulants were observed from Interview I to Interview II, but there was no significant reduction in use of other depressants or tobacco use. Levels of stress decreased and sources of stress changed for the women after the shelter experience. Stress connected to relationship with partners had the most significant decrease, followed by mental health, housing, and legal issues. Women reported barriers to accessing financial aid and services for substance use outside of the shelter.

Conclusions

Women’s experiences of violence and substance use were found to be interconnected in complex ways and changes in substance use were affected by a range of influences, such as financial concerns, mothering, relationships, levels of social support, and physical and mental health issues. Substance-using women who have experienced violence are an underserved population and a multi-sectoral response designed to address psychosocial, relational, and structural issues could better help them improve their overall health.

MeSH terms

Substance abuse women domestic violence stress social work 

Résumé

Objectif

Cette étude porte sur les changements dans la consommation d’alcool et d’autres drogues chez les femmes de la Colombie-Britannique au moment où elles entrent dans des maisons de refuge pour femmes victimes de violence, ainsi que trois mois plus tard. Il s’agit là selon nous d’une importante période de transition, qui pourrait être une occasion idéale d’influencer la consommation d’alcool ou de drogues de ces femmes. Notre étude visait à documenter les changements dans les niveaux de consommation et de stress des femmes qui font appel aux maisons de refuge pour femmes violentées.

Méthode

Nous avons employé des questionnaires normalisés, doublés d’entretiens en profondeur, pour mesurer la consommation d’alcool ou de drogues, la violence vécue, ainsi que les niveaux de stress et les types d’agents stressants auxquels les femmes sont confrontées dans ces situations.

Constatations

Nous avons observé d’importantes réductions dans la consommation d’alcool et de drogues des femmes entre le 1er et le 2e entretien, mais pas de baisse significative de la consommation d’autres neurodépresseurs, ni du tabagisme. Les niveaux de stress ont diminué et les sources de stress ont changé pour les femmes après leur séjour en maison de refuge. Le stress lié aux relations intimes affichait la baisse la plus prononcée, suivi des problèmes de santé mentale, des problèmes de logement et des problèmes juridiques. Les femmes ont mentionné des obstacles à l’accès à l’aide financière et aux services de toxicomanie à l’extérieur des maisons de refuge.

Conclusions

La violence vécue par les femmes et leur consommation d’alcool ou de drogues étaient liées de multiples façons, et les changements dans la consommation d’alcool ou de drogues étaient influencés par une gamme de facteurs, dont les inquiétudes financières, la maternité, les relations intimes, les niveaux de soutien social et les problèmes de santé physique et mentale. Les consommatrices d’alcool ou de drogues qui ont subi de la violence sont une population mal desservie; une intervention multisectorielle axée sur les enjeux psychosociaux, relationnels et structuraux pourrait mieux les aider à améliorer leur santé en général.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorraine Greaves
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cathy Chabot
    • 1
  • Natasha Jategaonkar
    • 1
  • Nancy Poole
    • 1
  • Lucy McCullough
    • 1
  1. 1.British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s HealthBC Women’s HospitalVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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