Gender differences in substance use, problems, social situation and treatment experiences among clients entering addiction treatment in Stockholm
AIM - While gender differences in substance use/problems have been found to be smaller in more gender-equal countries such as Sweden, gender-specific norms still prevail, and women's (mis)use continues to be more condemned than men's. This article analyses and discusses similarities and differences between the sexes in alcohol and drug treatment in terms of men's and women's treatment experiences, consumption/problems, social situation, and life-domain problems. METHOD - 1865 respondents were interviewed (structured interview) at the beginning of a new treatment episode in 2000-2002 in Stockholm County (sample representative of those starting a new treatment episode for alcohol or drug problems in Stockholm County). Responses are cross-tabulated by sex and multivariate logistic regression is used to predict whether men or women have more severe problems in various life domains of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI composite scores). RESULTS - Bivariate analyses showed that women and men differ significantly in their treatment experiences. Women are more likely to have contact with mental health services, whereas men tend to deal more with the criminal justice system. The sexes do not differ in alcohol and drug problem severity, but women are more likely to have problems with pharmaceuticals. In contrast to the hypothesis, it turned out that men, not women, are more marginalised as concerns housing, income, family situation, lack of friends. Women report more problems related to family, social life and mental/physical health, while men report higher criminality and financial problems. CONCLUSIONS - There are no gender differences among the clients in the treatment system when it comes to substance problem severity but differences occur concerning the clients' social situation and different life-domain problems. As men are more socially exposed a focus on women may obscure problems among men.
BACKGROUND - Far-reaching changes in the Swedish substance abuse treatment system (SAT) were proposed by a state-commissioned inquiry in 2011. The proposal implied a break with the social tradition of SAT. It was suggested that the treatment responsibility should be transferred from the municipal social services to the regional-level health care system; and that compulsory treatment in its present form (assessed by/paid for by social services, run by the state) should be abolished and become incorporated into coercive psychiatric care provided by health care. A lively debate arose, and the vast majority of stakeholders sought to articulate their arguments. AIM - The study analysed the development of Swedish SAT by examining the policy process from reform proposal to government bill in 2013.
METHOD - Content analysis was used to analyse written comments on the proposal submitted to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs by close to 200 stakeholders. The goal was to empirically chart and examine the arguments for and against as well as advocates and opponents of the reform. With the government bill at hand, we retrospectively sorted out the winning arguments in the now highly contested SAT field and which actors were able to influence the process.
CONCLUSIONS - The article discloses that the mixed response and rather critical voices in most groups, including social/medical professions and government bureaucracy, helped block the responsibility shifts, and that reformations of subsystems like SAT are difficult to carry out as freestanding projects within larger systems of social and health care