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Ivers, Jo-Hanna and Giulini, Francesca and Paul, Gillian (2021) Supporting women to access appropriate treatment study. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin.

PDF (Supporting women to access appropriate treatment) - Published Version

Supporting Women to Access Appropriate Treatment (SWAAT) is a National Drugs Strategy Strand 2 Strategic Health Initiative which aims to build community capacity to support women to access treatment and recovery from drug and alcohol use across the Tallaght and Ballyfermot LDATF areas. Drug and Alcohol Task Forces play a key role in assessing the extent and nature of the drug problem and in initiating appropriate responses, so that there is a coordinated approach involving all sectors in addressing problematic drug and alcohol use in local communities.

Summary of findings:

  • Prior exposure to traumatic early and later life events was associated with progression into problematic patterns of drug use.
  • Women in the study typically described a childhood marked by poverty, bereavement and family adversity.
  • Notwithstanding their challenges with alcohol and/or other drug use, women participating in this study expressed a strong desire to access recovery services.
  • Lack of access to childcare services was cited as the most significant barrier to accessing treatment.
  • Key stakeholders discussed the ongoing sexual exploitation and control of women in these communities.
  • Services were disjointed and did not work together as effectively as they could.
  • The perceived fear of losing children as a barrier to treatment for the women was a dominant theme in the key stakeholder’s narratives.
  • Women did not have adequate access to the necessary support services (domestic violence, mental health, primary care).
  • A high number of key stakeholders noted how the responsibility of childcare most often rested with the mothers.
  • Key stakeholders highlight the constant loop that women with co-occurring mental health issues and drug use found themselves in when seeking help.
  • The need to build competencies around addiction in non-addiction service staff was a key theme in the stakeholder interviews.
  • Peer-led support was seen as particularly successful when attempting to engage women.

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