Campus News - January 14, 2002
Alcohol abuse focus of new treatment for homeless women
By Steve Carr
UNM Department of Psychology Professor Jane Ellen Smith has received a four-year,
$1.5 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
(NIAAA) to help treat substance abusing homeless women with a unique approach.
The treatment program will also focus on poor body image/eating disorders as well as chronic sexual victimization, but the main emphasis will be on the alcohol aspect of substance abuse.
The basic premise is to make a sober life-style enjoyable and rewarding
enough so that it can compete with a drinking life-style, said Smith.
This may involve having supportive friends and family again, but it also
entails a rewarding job and pleasurable but healthy social activities.
The program will recruit a large number of women, nearly 100, who will be randomly
assigned to one of three conditions including: case management (CM), which is
a standard treatment method administered by a social worker; community reinforcement
approach (CRA), which is a behavioral intervention method that has proven efficacious
for treating alcoholics; and an enhanced CRA program called CREATE or community
reinforcement, employment and training enhancement. This method uses the CRA
approach along with incentive-based job training.
The program will be conducted utilizing these treatments and modified to take
womens issues into consideration. Women and families make up approximately
30 percent of the homeless population and are viewed as the fastest rising subgroup.
Women typically enter and remain in alcohol programs at much lower rates than
men. One of the causes is because some women will only seek treatment if womens
issues are addressed.
Participants will come into the program and will be housed for the initial
three months. Intense treatments will occur several times a week and in some
instances, every day. Two problems Smith hopes to undertake successfully include
relapses and a high rate of post-treatment unemployment.
We will have built-in aftercare treatment available for three to four
months after theyve completed their treatment, which is considered the
high-risk period for a relapse, Smith said. The second problem is
a high rate of unemployment. Homeless women have a particularly difficult time
finding employment because of their limited job experience and education. There
are actually lots of job training programs available, but they typically dont
take advantage of them.
We have added a computer training module as part of the CREATE program,
but since motivation to learn new job skills is a problem, the training program
uses financial incentives. We will provide them with vouchers for attendance
at job training sessions, as well as for learning the computer skills. The vouchers
can be exchanged for goods at various department stores. It is designed to bolster
job training attendance and to make the work environment a reinforcing community.
The program, which will draw recruits from the various shelters in Albuquerque,
is slated to get underway this month. Smith, the principal investigator (PI),
will also work with colleagues Robert Meyers, clinical director and co-PI, Harold
Delaney, methodologist, Marcello Maviglia, physician and Leslie Amrhein, administrative
The entire project will take place at St. Martins Hospitality Center
in downtown Albuquerque, said Smith. This collaboration was made
possible primarily through the support of individuals at St. Martins including
Chris Fogel, executive director, and Lee Pattison, development director.
Smith says they are looking for donations to help furnish the apartments where
the participants will be housed.
Call 277-2650 for more information about donations or the program.
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
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