Age differences in risk behavior among incarcerated substance-abusing women

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6 Scopus citations


Female substance abusing offenders are likely to need treatment due to their risky lifestyles. It is unknown if or how treatment could be different for women in different age groups. Given the special needs associated with substance abuse among women, examining potential differences in substance use and risky sexual behaviors between older and younger women is potentially important in order to target interventions. This study examines age differences in drug use, sexual activity, and criminal justice involvement between older (aged 35-56) and younger (aged 21-34) incarcerated female substance abusers. This study is part of a larger project focused on health service utilization among incarcerated substance abusers, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Data were collected from 60 incarcerated women. Participants were interviewed face-to-face regarding their drug use, sexual activity, and criminal justice involvement. It was hypothesized that older women would report decreased drug and alcohol use and decreased patterns of risky sexual activity than the younger women. The findings indicated that few differences in drug use and sexual activity exist between the different age groups. In addition, there were few differences in criminal justice involvement except for age of first arrest. These findings were unexpected. The lack of significant results in this study could possibly be explained by considering substance use as a life long process for those who become addicted. In this group of female drug users, it appears that patterns of risk behavior for some women are stable over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Addictions Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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