Lifetime Substance Use Patterns of Women Offenders
What it means
The Women’s Computerized Assessment of Substance Abuse (W-CASA) demonstrates that over three-quarters of federally-sentenced women have a substance use issue. These results, as well as those indicating relatively high rates of prescription drug use, poly-substance use, and injection drug use, support the continued use of interventions such as the Women Offender Correctional Program. This multi-target program is available in a range of intensities, both in institutions and in the community, according to women’s level of risk and need.
In addition, the provision of drug-specific interventions such as Opiate Substitution Therapy further aid women offenders to address their substance use issues, especially since twice as many women have significant drug use problems as alcohol use problems and almost two-thirds of women indicate lifetime opioid use.
What we found
Why we did this study
Previous research indicated the approximately 80% of women offenders have substance use issuesFootnote 1. However, little information was available about the nature and scope of their substance use histories.
What we did
The W-CASA assesses substance use issues of women offenders at admission to federal custody. In total, 962 women (29% Aboriginal) completed the W-CASA between February 2010 and February 2014Footnote 2.
For more information
Please e-mail the Research Branch or contact us by phone at (613) 995-3975.
You can also visit the website for a full list of research publications.
Prepared by: Shanna Farrell MacDonald
- Footnote 1
Matheson, F.I., Doherty, S., & Grant, B.A. (2009). Women offender substance abuse programming & community reintegration (R-202). Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service Canada.
- Footnote 2
The W-CASA was piloted in 2010 and nationally implemented in 2011. Overall 90% of federal women offenders admitted to custody after national implementation completed the W-CASA.
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