What is gender-responsive education?

“A number of studies have shown that men and women have different pathways to crime and addiction, continue to use drugs for different reasons, enter and remain in treatment for different reasons, and have a greater unmet need for treatment and therapy.” “Some evidence indicates that women are less likely to drop out of specialized programs that take into account their specific treatment needs”. 1

“I used to have such negative self-talk. Because of this class I've realized that I can change those thoughts and it’s helped me to love myself.

(HSF Participant 2018)

Topics Addressed in Healthy Steps to Freedom

What I loved most about the class was I became aware of so many different ways to maintain my weight and feel good without using. Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

(HSF Participant 2018)


  1. Messina, N., Calhoun, S., & Warda, U. (2012). Gender-responsive drug court treatment: A randomized controlled trial.
    Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39(12), 1539-1558.
  2. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS): 2017 Admissions to and Discharges from Publicly-Funded Substance Use Treatment; Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/treatment-episode-data-set-teds-2017-admissions-and-discharges-publicly-funded-substance-use, 2019, Aug 21
  3. Warren CS, Lindsay AR, White EK, Claudat K, Velasquez SC Weight-related concerns related to drug use for women in substance abuse treatment: Prevalence and relationships with eating pathology.of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2013;44:494-501.
  4. Lindsay, A. R., Warren, C. S., Velasquez, S. C., & Lu, M. (2012). A gender-specific approach to improving substance abuse treatment for women: The healthy steps to freedom program. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 43(1), 61-69.
  5. NIDA. (2019). Substance Use in Women. Retrieved from https://ww.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-women on 2019, Aug 14
  6. Aydin, Y. Evrensel, A. & Ceylan, M. (2018). Body image, self-esteem and social anxiety levels in individuals with alcohol and substance abuse. Medicine Science.
  7. Jeynes, K. D., & Gibson, E. L. (2017). The importance of nutrition in aiding recovery from substance use disorders: A review. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 179, 229-239.
  8. Bruening, A. B., Perez, M., & Ohrt, T. K. (2018). Exploring weight control as motivation for illicit stimulant use. Eating Behaviors, 30, 72-75.
  9. Tull, M., Lee, A., Geers, A., & Gratz, K. (2018). Exploring the role of sedentary behavior and physical activity in depression and anxiety symptom severity among patients with substance use disorders. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 14, 98-102.
  10. Haynos, A. F., Wall, M. M., Chen, C., Wang, S. B., Loth, K., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2018). Patterns of weight control behavior persisting beyond young adulthood: Results from a 15-year longitudinal study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 51(9), 1090-1097.
  11. Grant, L. P., Haughton, B., & Sachan, D. S. (2004). Nutrition education is positively associated with substance abuse treatment program outcomes. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(4), 604-610.
  12. Killeen, T., Brewerton, T. D., Campbell, A., Cohen, L. R., & Hien, D. A. (2015). Exploring the relationship between eating disorder symptoms and substance use severity in women with comorbid PTSD and substance use disorders. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 41(6), 547-552.
  13. Monsivais, P., Aggarwal, A, & Drewnowski, A. (2014). Time spent on home food preparation and indicators of healthy eating. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 47(6), 796-802.
  14. Sala, M., Brosof, L. C., Levinson, C. A. (2019). Repetitive Negative Thinking Predicts Eating Disorder Behaviors: A Pilot Ecological Momentary Assessment Study in a Treatment Seeking Eating Disorder Sample. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 112, 12-17.
Lindsay, A. 2021, Healthy Steps to Freedom: Gender- Responsive Education Program, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, Brochure

Learn more about the author(s)


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Associated Programs


Healthy Steps to Freedom

Program teaches nutrition and healthy lifestyles that address weight and energy concerns in women with substance abuse issues