The Caring Together program is turning 25. Established in 1990, the program, which is managed by the Department of Psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine, helps women and their children overcome substance abuse and start a new life without drugs and alcohol.
Women & Addiction
While men may be more likely to become addicted to substances, women traditionally face tougher challenges. The Caring Together program works with women and children to address these unique challenges using evidenced-based practices, integrated care for coexisting psychiatric disorders and trauma-informed care. Without addressing gender-specific care, many of the issues that face women with substance use disorders, including incarceration, can lead to further progression of the disease of addiction.
“Women also experience medical and social consequences of addiction faster than men, often find it harder to quit using addictive substances and are more susceptible to returning to use,” said the program’s medical director, Barbara Schindler, MD, professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. “These gender differences can affect treatment, which is why we have designed a program specifically for women and their children, which has helped countless women and their families in the past 25 years beat the stranglehold that can be addiction.”
Taking a Multidisciplinary Approach to Treatment
For the past quarter of a century, Caring Together has been taking a multidisciplinary approach to addiction treatment. This means that a group of health care professionals, such as physicians, nurses, and social service and mental health providers work together to meet the needs of their patients. The team specializes in providing services to women who are pregnant and/or have children and/or who are dually diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.
In addition to getting patients through the different stages of treatment, the group offers: addiction/mental health counseling, psychiatric evaluation, onsite child care and domestic violence counseling, and case management, among many others.
New Program Launches
To mark this special anniversary, a new program aimed at reducing the recidivism rate of formerly incarcerated women is launching. Working Together for Women (WTW) was created to help with the many reunification needs of these women, many of whom have significant substance abuse and mental health problems. “If their reintroduction into society is not handled properly, there is a great chance that they will return to criminal behavior,” said Schindler. “This specialized program’s sole purpose is to make sure that does not happen. We’ll do this through an integrated and highly coordinated system of life skills training, family reunification, and addiction and psychiatric treatment.”
WTW is a collaboration between the Philadelphia Office of Addiction Services, Caring Together and Mothers in Charge, which is dedicated to violence prevention, education and intervention for youth, young adults, families and community organizations.