The NRC adopts gender responsive Treatment services for substance abuse in women

“Gender-responsive” implies:

  • A safe, supportive and woman-nurturing environment that encourages trust, bonding and connection;
  • Theoretical perspectives that incorporate women’s life experiences and reality;
  • Program approaches based on theories that fit the psychological and social needs of women;
  • Therapeutic modalities or approaches (e.g. relational) that address issues such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse, family relationships, substance abuse, eating disorders and other concurrent disorders;
  • Opportunities to develop skills in a range of educational and vocational areas (including non-traditional vocational skills);
  • A strength- or asset-based approach to treatment and skill-building and an emphasis on activities that focus on empowerment and self-efficacy;
  • Staff that reflect the client population, in terms of gender, race or ethnicity, language and recovery status;
  • Female role models and mentors that reflect the racial or ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the clients;
  • Utilization of gender-responsive assessment tools and individualized treatment plans that match appropriate treatment with the identified needs or assets of each client;
  • Education and counselling relating to health (e.g. pregnancy, nutrition, stress management, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases) and mental health (e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder, depression);
  • Emphasis on parenting education, child development and relationships (or reunification) with children (if relevant);
  • Child-friendly environment with age-appropriate activities designed for children and childcare on site for residential services; when available and feasible
  • Linkages to community-based agencies for drug-free supportive housing, employment, substance abuse treatment, mutual aid groups, child welfare, domestic violence, parenting, childcare, peer support groups, health, mental health, HIV/AIDS, day treatment and aftercare;
  • Gender-responsive and culturally competent in-service staff training.


  • Gender: Acknowledge that gender makes a difference.
  • Environment: Create an environment based on safety, respect and dignity.
  • Relationships: Develop policies, practices and programs that are relational and promote healthy connections to children, family, significant others and the community.
  • Services: Address the issues of substance abuse, trauma and mental health through comprehensive, integrated, culturally relevant services.

Treatment Settings of Female Patients

  • Withdrawal from substances
  • Residential treatment
  • Outpatient treatment settings

Length of Treatment for Female Patients

  • Residential treatment should not be less than four weeks in length and outpatient treatment 3-6 months, we encourage longer lengths of stay and/or more frequent treatment contacts (e.g. two to four outpatient sessions a week rather than one) as they are associated with better treatment outcomes. Anyway, it’s determined with flexibility based on the individual client’s need rather than rigid standardization.
  • Aftercare can be provided in a number of ways, individual or group format, face-to-face or by telephone, regularly scheduled sessions, or drop-in, as needed. Whenever Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous are available, they can play an important and ongoing role in providing clients with support in their recovery.
  • The focus of Social Reintegration is on training, education and the development of skills; employment; and housing. This is done by liaising with other organizations and entities that provide such services and interested in collaboration for the best benefit of our clients.
  • Stepped care: This allows clients to make the transition to a less or to a more intensive treatment setting as their needs change.
  • Comprehensive and practical care by combining substance use treatment with an array of services such as prenatal care, medical care, parenting education, family planning, attention to nutrition and housing needs and counselling on violence and relationship issues, as well as practical supports such as transportation to appointments. Inter-agency collaboration and coordination to engage and retain women in treatment and provide the range of services required.