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Substance use disorders compromise the health of women, increasing their risk for numerous physical health issues. Women experience more serious physical, social, medical, psychiatric and personal consequences than their male counterparts in relationship to alcohol consumption and nicotine addiction, despite their lower level of consumption and use of these substances. Additionally, women are more likely to face more formidable barriers to treatment entry, engagement and retention than men. With women's polysubstance use and use of substances other than alcohol increasing in the US (Blumenthal, 1998; Najavits, 2002), it is crucial that treatment programs address the unique issues faced by women in substance use disorder treatment.

Research has identified specific treatment issues and needs for women. Gender specific factors which influence the treatment and recovery process include: the importance of relationships, the influence of family, the role of substance use in sexuality, the prevalence and history of trauma and violence, and common patterns of co-occurring disorders. However, limited research is available on specific therapeutic approaches for women outside of trauma-informed services.

Prairielands ATTC is committed to increasing the awareness and knowledge of issues related to women and substance abuse. Consequently, Prairielands has developed two programs designed to address the unique needs of women with substance use and co-occurring disorders: Healthy Women, Healthy Lives & Hand-In-Hand Curriculum. The curricula for both of these programs are available to treatment professionals, upon completion of training on program implementation. Please contact us with interest in training on either of these programs.



Healthy Women, Healthy Lives

Healthy Women, Healthy Lives is a lifestyle modification program developed by Prairielands ATTC as a holistic approach to complex substance abuse issues in female populations.  The program Healthy Women, Healthy Lives utilizes both cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing approaches. The program seeks to provide therapeutic and social  support for women to practice and engage in:

  • Regular exercise
  • Stress management techniques
  • Substance-free recreational activities
  • Healthy eating patterns

The Healthy Women, Healthy Lives program consists of 12 group psycho-educational sessions and 2 individual motivational interveiws for each participant. The group sessions involve light physical exercise, group discussion, relaxation exercises, and homework assignments.

The Healthy Women, Healthy Lives program has ben adapted for use with Native American women, and is currently being adapted for use with African American and Hispanic/Latina women.


Hand-In-Hand is a psycho-educational group program developed by Prairielands ATTC for treatment of women with co-occurring disorders and substance use disorders. This program is designed to address unique issues faced by women with co-occurring disorders and to provide them with the opportunities to enhance their mental, social, and emotional well-being. The program consists of 14 2-hour sessions, and involves journaling and homework assignments.

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