Responding to Victimized Alaska Native Women in Treatment for Substance Abuse

Bernie Segal, PhD

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High rates of physical and sexual abuse have been found among Alaska Native women entering a residential treatment program in Fairbanks, Alaska. However, little information is available describing the nature of such abuse and its relationship to treatment outcome. This paper describes some of the characteristics and treatment needs of Alaska Native women being treated for substance misuse, as well as reviews how treatment programs can best respond to the needs of such women. It specifically describes women entering a residential treatment program and the relationship between their experiences of victimization, substance misuse and response to treatment. It also emphasizes treatment efforts made to retain them in the program and to improve treatment outcome.

Although the paper’s focus is on Alaska Native women who were physically or sexually abused, the information provided can be used as a foundation for developing treatment programs responsive to other Native American women, and to abused women in general. The findings also have implications for guiding further research on treatment outcome for substance abusing women who have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse.

The final WCRP report is available for viewing in pdf format: