there was a higher rate of hospital admissions for men than for women, which suggests that emergency room doctors may be more cognizant of substance use disorders among men and thus have more of a propensity toward referring men to drug detox and treatment. The lack of recognition regarding substance use disorders in women could be a “potential barrier” to providing them with much-needed referrals.
Both genders have relatively low rates of referrals to treatment, researchers found. A little more than 3 percent of women and slightly less than 6 percent of men who visit the emergency room and show signs of drug use get referrals. Previous research has also shown that the need for substance abuse treatment often goes unmet in emergency departments.
Researchers discussed barriers to treatment referrals including costs and the lack of availability of addiction treatment programs for the uninsured, in addition to other personal or professional obligations that prevent patients from seeking treatment.
Strides have been made, though. Substance abuse treatment programs that focus on women are more prevalent than before, and studies have indicated that treatment retention among women is similar to men; women have shown reductions in substance abuse after treatment and they are less likely than men to relapse.
However, researchers urged physicians in emergency departments to remain vigilant, recognize substance use disorders in women, and break down the barriers that prevent women from receiving much-needed treatment that has shown to work in reducing their substance abuse.