Research on patterns of behavior related to dual diagnoses indicates that there are numerous and substantial differences between the patterns which are established by males who suffer from both mental and addictive disorders and those patterns involving women who have been dually diagnosed.
One chief difference between men and women is the underlying orientation of personality development, “women are seen to seek attachment and connection as a way of finding self and female identity, whereas men are seen to seek separation and individuation as their route to self and male identity”; this underlying difference results in the need for gender-based theory and treatment, (Straussner & Brown, 2002, p. 35).
The types of disorders involved in dually diagnosed patients also indicates differences between men and women: ” In general, men are more likely to have antisocial and other impulse disorders, whereas women are more likely to have depression, panic, and eating disorders”, such distinctions, obviously impact treatment and counseling techniques and inform theories of dual-diagnoses from the ground up.
Another key difference is the preponderance of early-age trauma or abuse which is experienced more often by women than men and this early-age abuse impacts later disorders and addictions: “many women have experienced acute and chronic traumas in the past and present, which may intensify their addictions and add to difficulties in treatment and recovery,” (Straussner & Brown, 2002, p. 36)
Additionally,women are more likely to experience barriers to gaining access to treatment for their disorders, or even having them diagnosed, professionally; all too often, women experience “a history of victimization, health problems, psychotropic medication issues, chaotic relationships, insufficient income, and barriers to treatment”, (Straussner & Brown, 2002, p. 427). References Dinitto, D. M. , & Crisp, C. (2002). Chapter Nineteen Addictions and Women with Major Psychiatric Disorders. In The Handbook of Addiction Treatment for Women, Straussner, S. L. & Brown, S. (Eds. ) (pp. 423-447). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.