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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2018;44(4):480-487. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2018.1427103. Epub 2018 Feb 16.

Gender differences in substance use treatment and substance use among adults on probation.

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a Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences , University of Texas School of Public Health , Dallas , TX , USA.
b Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems, School of Public Health , University of North Texas Health Science Center , Fort Worth , TX , USA.
c Criminology, Law and Society Program , George Mason University , Fairfax , VA , USA.



Although many formal and informal substance use treatment programs were originally designed for men, no studies have investigated how gender affects the use of substance use treatment modalities, and how gender differences in treatment utilization impact substance use in the unique probation context.


To describe gender differences in use and effectiveness of substance use treatment modalities (formal and informal) among probationers.


Longitudinal data were obtained from 335 individuals (93 women) who participated in the Motivational Assessment Program to Initiate Treatment (MAPIT) study. Timeline follow-back measures were used to quantify daily substance use and treatment modality (formal treatment included inpatient and outpatient treatment; informal treatment included self-help, religious, and all other group meetings). Multivariate generalized estimating equations were used to examine relationships between gender, treatment, and substance use.


Gender was not associated with alcohol use. Use of formal treatment programs reduced the odds of alcohol use by 15%. The probability of alcohol use was the lowest (8%) for men who participated in formal treatment. For men using informal treatment programs, the probability of alcohol use was 11%. The probability of alcohol use for women was similar regardless of the type of treatment utilization (15-16%). No differences in illicit drug use by gender or type of treatment were detected.


This research found limited evidence of a relationship between gender, substance use treatment modality, and alcohol use. These findings have clinical significance in that both formal and informal treatment approaches are similarly effective across both men and women.


Substance use treatment; drug use; gender; probation; treatment modality

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