Two-Part Symposium to Address Women’s Issues

Women’s issues in addiction medicine will be the focus of two Symposia presented Friday. Symposium 2A, “Update on Women’s Issues—Part I,” will be presented from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm and Symposium 2B, “Update on Women’s Issues—Part II,” will be presented from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, both in Orange Ballroom D, Lower Level.

In Part I, Shelly Greenfield, MD, MPH, will look at gender differences in addiction and its treatment. She will share study results from the Women’s Recovery Group, a 12-session relapse prevention group therapy that uses a cognitive-behavioral approach. Dr. Greenfield will spotlight recent epidemiologic trends, including the narrowing of the gender gap in prevalence of these disorders, as well as gender differences in risks for substance use disorders.

Dr. Greenfield is Chief Academic Officer and Chief of the Division of Women’s Mental Health at McLean Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She also is Director of the Clinical and Health Services Research and Education in the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts.

“While substance use is a growing health problem among women, females are underrepresented in most substance use treatment programs,” Dr. Greenfield said. “However, there are evidence-based, gender-responsive treatments for women with substance use disorders, including the Women’s Recovery Group.”

In 2011, women comprised 42 percent of illicit drug users, 40 percent of tobacco product users, and 50 percent of alcohol users in the United States, she said. That same year, 7.6 million women over age 12 had a substance use disorder.

Part II of the symposium will focus on consequences and subgroups of women’s drinking. The most serious consequences of drinking during pregnancy are Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Children with FASD have been found to have growth delays, central nervous system problems, facial abnormalities, behavioral and academic problems, and psychosocial problems. The deficits are lifelong and not easily treatable. Presenters will discuss the latest research findings, with a special emphasis on screening and diagnosis, referral to treatment, and promising approaches to treatment. Additionally, presenters will touch on current research on HIV-infected women with co-occurring alcohol misuse and other mental health disorders, emphasizing co-occurring anxiety and depression.

The two sessions are relevant because there is ongoing research on women’s issues and it is important to have periodic updates to continuously refine treatment said speaker Joan Zweben, PhD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and Executive Director of the East Bay Community Recovery Project, Oakland, California.

“We hope people will take away practical information they can use to improve treatment in their own community,” she said.