A gendered difference? Female experience of drug and alcohol treatment in New Zealand
This study examined women’s experiences of drug and alcohol treatment in New Zealand, with a focus on Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT). The qualitative literature on the treatment experiences of substance-using women is scarce, especially in a New Zealand context, with the majority of literature being quantitative, male-focused, and lacking the female voice. Available literature suggests that substance-using women have unique needs and experiences which must be addressed and acknowledged in treatment for a long-lasting positive change. This thesis aims to explore the experiences of women who have or are attending substance use treatment in New Zealand and their recommendations for improving substance use treatment for women. Areas examined include the experience of stigma, connections and relationships in treatment, and the importance of knowledge. These factors culminate in an exploration of participants’ suggestions for improvement. The current study is qualitative, feminist-informed and employed the use of semi-structured interviews with 11 women who have been or are currently in treatment as well as two service providers. The data from these interviews was analysed using Thematic Analysis, finding that women in this study overall had positive experiences. However, there were several areas for improvement suggested by participants including a need for greater access to treatment options, particularly gender-sensitive, holistic approaches. A need for greater knowledge amongst service providers, especially General Practitioners (GPs), on how to treat problematic substance use and the available treatment options was also expressed. Women on MMT had similar, yet varied, experiences compared to those attending other treatments.