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Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Mood-Altering Drugs

Promising Policy and Treatment Initiatives

There are some promising initiatives to improve policy and treatment for people with drug problems and to respond specifically to the needs of girls and women with substance use problems:

  • The Drug Policy Alliance is a leading U.S. organization working toward "new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights, and a just society in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more."

  • Some policies have proved effective in reducing smoking and improving the public health. These include implementing clean-indoor-air laws or ordinances that make all workplaces (including bars and restaurants) smoke-free; increasing the excise tax on tobacco, which encourages smokers, especially young people and pregnant women, to quit; ensuring that private insurers and Medicaid provide coverage for services, including counseling and medication, to help people stop smoking; and implementing prevention programs that educate young people and motivate them not to start smoking. (For more information, or to become involved in these efforts, contact Americans for Non-Smokers Rights, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.)

  • Treatment providers have been working to design comprehensive trauma, mental health, and substance use programs that address women’s needs for safety and healing. Seeking Safety and Community Connections are two examples of this work.

  • To learn more about international issues regarding women and smoking, check out INWAT, the International Network of Women Against Tobacco.

Our understanding of treatment for and policy related to substance use continues to change. Pressures on us to use alcohol, tobacco, and other mood-altering drugs are stronger than ever. Yet there are promising advances that address the health problems associated with women’s substance use. We have much to accomplish in research, policy, enforcement, and treatment to improve the lives of girls and women at risk of or involved in substance abuse, but this work is well under way.

Excerpted from the 2005 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, © 2005, Boston Women's Health Book Collective.


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