DDN July_Aug_2022 DDN July/August 2022 | Page 7

and had real energy , she told the conference . ‘ While these improvements will benefit women , they ’ ll also benefit their families , their partners , their children . So I would argue this is not a womenonly issue . It ’ s a core part of strengthening our ability to make a difference .’ The broader health world was waking up to the importance of women ’ s health and acknowledging the inequalities , ‘ so we have to ask ourselves what have we done to address that gap in treatment systems , and what do we need to do to ensure we ’ re playing our part ?’ While more and more women were now using web-chat services , roughly only a third of the people attending structured treatment
were women , she pointed out . Women reported using substances for a shorter period when entering treatment , with their drug use escalating faster – they were also more likely to relapse , she said . ‘ Their withdrawal symptoms may be more intense , and they may experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels – do we do enough to consider those things ?’ Change Grow Live ’ s national lived experience group had been working to understand women ’ s experience of treatment , with one emerging headline finding that the majority of women accessing services had done so not through choice but necessity . When asked why , the reason was either to respond to a health need or through their role as a mother – because social care services required them to .
TRADITIONAL VIEWS ‘ I ’ d also add the criminal justice route to that ,’ she said . ‘ So why are women reluctant ?’ Reasons included denial , stigma , fear of judgment , and exposure to men in treatment settings , she stressed . ‘ Society still holds very traditional views of women . Men ’ s drinking and women ’ s drinking are seen very differently – we still have the
‘ How many black and brown faces do we see in our services ? We all need to ask why that is .’
“ mother ’ s ruin ” hanging over us from the 18th century .’ Women had a fear of what treatment would be like – and its consequences – with an overriding sense of responsibility to their families and the perceived risks around that , plus the added feeling of pressure as the primary provider of emotional support . All of this meant that the next steps needed to be around challenging stigma and ingrained societal attitudes , and finding the ‘ quiet ’ voices – women who haven ’ t historically come forward or were not in treatment . ‘ The need to change how women see themselves , and how society sees women runs deep . What I ’ m championing is the messiness of humans and the need to identify and explore our uniqueness
and our differences , and what they mean in terms of how we experience support and help and care . And if that includes my difference as a woman , and then exploring all our other differences , I think we ’ d all be much better for it .’
UNMET NEEDS Nottingham ’ s BAME-led , peerled BAC-IN organisation ( DDN , September 2021 , page 6 ) also came about in response to an unmet need in mainstream services , said its managing director Sohan Sahota – and ‘ very little ’ had changed since then . ‘ I must say this , UK drug and alcohol treatment has betrayed , abandoned and rejected ethnic minority communities in their search for recovery and wellness ,’ he told the conference .
‘ How many black and brown faces do we see in our services ? We all need to ask why that is . Nic was talking about women – let me say something about ethnic minority women . Black women , south Asian women – the stigma they get in their communities , the pain they go through . Where are the services to address their addiction , but also the cultural issues of stigma and shame , and the racial trauma , cultural and religious abuse ? Where can they go and take that as part of