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J Subst Abuse Treat. 1997 Jul-Aug;14(4):339-49.

Treatment of substance-abusing jail inmates. Examination of gender differences.

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  • 1Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa 33612-3899, USA.


Females incarcerated for drug-related offenses represent one of the fastest growing populations within jails and prisons. The few studies of female offenders with substance abuse disorders depict a population with multiple psychosocial problems and treatment needs, and one that is characterized by frequent exposure to sexual abuse and other violence. The current study examined intake assessment results from a sample of 1,655 substance-involved jail inmates referred to a jail treatment program in Tampa, Florida, including 26% female and 74% male inmates. The study was designed to identify gender differences in psychosocial characteristics and substance abuse treatment needs among jail inmates. Results indicate that female inmates more frequently experienced employment problems, had lower incomes, more frequently reported cocaine as the primary drug of choice, and were more likely to report depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, and a history of physical and sexual abuse. Implications for developing specialized treatment approaches for female offenders are discussed, including use of integrated treatment strategies.

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