The Emergence of Problem-Drinking Women as a Special Population in Need of Treatment

Part of the Recent Developments in Alcoholism book series (RDIA, volume 12)


This chapter chronicles the development of advocacy for improvements in alcohol treatment services for women during the 1970s and 1980s, tracing its influence in terms of real change in treatment systems in the United States. We follow the development of a “women’s alcoholism movement” from its inception in the late 1970s through its transition during the late 1980s into a broader movement focused on drug abuse and perinatal addiction. We describe the new governing images of problem-drinking women that advocates presented, their claims about the nature of substance abuse problems in women, and their recommendations for a more “gender-sensitive” treatment system. We also review increased federal involvement in this issue over the course of the 1980s, as pressure mounted on policymakers to respond to the crisis over drug-exposed infants by making treatment services more accessible to women. The chapter concludes by considering these developments from the perspective of national treatment system statistics, finding modest growth in specialized and women-only treatment units, as well as moderate increases in the representation of women in substance abuse treatment caseloads.


Alcohol Problem Alcoholic Anonymous Block Grant Alcoholism Treatment Alcohol Drug Abuse 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alcohol Research Group and Department of SociologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley
  2. 2.Alcohol Research Group and School of Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley

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