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ISSN: 2155-6105

Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy
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Research Article

Women with Substance Abuse Problems Exposed to Men’s Violence - A Public Mental Health Challenge

Christina Scheffel Birath1,2*, Ulla Beijer3, Valerie DeMarinis2,4 and Britt af Klinteberg3,5,6

1Stockholm Centre for Dependency Disorders, Stockholm, Sweden

2Area of Psychology of Religion, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

3Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

4Public Mental Health and Meaning Research Area, Impact Research Programme, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

5Centre for Health Equity Studies, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

6Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

*Corresponding Author:
Christina Scheffel Birath
Stockholm Centre for Dependency Disorders
Box 17914, SE 118 95, Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46-707-36-27-69
Fax: +46-8-123-495-14
E-mail: [email protected]

Received May 02, 2013; Accepted May 21, 2013; Published May 26, 2013

Citation: Birath CS, Beijer U, DeMarinis V, af Klinteberg B (2013) Women with Substance Abuse Problems Exposed to Men’s Violence - A Public Mental Health Challenge. J Addict Res Ther 4:149. doi:10.4172/2155-6105.1000149

Copyright: © 2013 Birath CS, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Objective: To explore self-rated physical and psychological health in two groups of women with substance misuse problems, subjected to male violence. Methods: An examination of the health situation for women with substance dependence being exposed to male violence during life. The study took place in a Swedish context exploring data from 35 women with housing (WwH) and 44 homeless women (HW), regarding posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, psychological and physical problems. Mann-Whitney U-test and Pearson’s correlation coefficient were used to calculate differences between groups and correlations. Results: The proportion of women being exposed to male violence during life for the studied group was 91% (72 of 79 women; WwH 29; HW 43). It was found that the WwH had physical health problems but compared to the HW, significantly less frequent. Regarding psychological health problems, both groups were suffering from self-reported problems, most notably in variables measuring stress susceptibility and embitterment, where both WwH and HW had scores markedly above norm mean scores. The HW had overall a poorer mental health profile as compared to the WwH. The WwH still maintained a foundation in the society compared to the HW regarding housing (100/0%), and custody over their children (91/0%). Conclusion: The study indicated that women with substance dependence and those who are victims of male violence have major problems with both their psychological and physical health. Particularly vulnerable are the HW. Past experiences of violence that have not been processed can further aggravate the women’s health. Thus, we suggest initiating the process of asking women if they have experienced violence in order to then be able to provide appropriate treatment interventions. For the WwH, this process may lead to a prevention of serious consequences for both their housing situation and for their health.

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