Gender Differences in Drug Use, Health, and Health Service Utilization Among Incarcerated Substance Abusers

Michele Staton, University of Kentucky
Carl G. Leukefeld, University of Kentucky
J. Matthew Webster, University of Kentucky
Matthew L. Hiller, University of Kentucky
Rebecca Kayo, University of Kentucky

While research in the past few years inplies women's substance abuse issues may be different than men, a commonality is that drug and alcohol use are often linked to criminal justice involvement (Leukefeld & Tims, 1992). Limited research focusing on gender differences in substance abuse and related problems among criminal justice populations indicates that women more frequently report mental health problems, employment issues, history of sexual abuse, and a history of family problems (Peters, et al., 1997; Sheridan, 1996; Wallen, 1992). However, relatively little is kown about how health problems and service utilization differ among incarcerated male and female substance abusers. For this presentation, 120 prisoners sampled from the NIDA-funded Health Services (Use by Chronic Rural Drug Abusers project were selected for gender comparisons. The analysis includes 60 women interviewed for the project and a sample of 60 men. Preliminary analyses indicate that males engaged in substance abuse earlier than females, females reported increased use of cocaine during the 30 days prior to incarceration as well as more years of regular cocaine use. In general, females reported more health problems and more service utilization than men. Implications for developing gender specific services for incarcerated substance abusers will be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006