A new sub­stance abuse treat­ment model for women, devel­oped by Northeastern’s Insti­tute on Urban Health Research in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion, shows supe­rior out­comes when com­pared to stan­dard addic­tion treat­ment methods.

Known as the Boston Con­sor­tium Model (BCM), the novel approach toward treating women with coin­ciding drug addic­tion, abuse and mental health dis­or­ders was shown through a six-​​year study to sig­nif­i­cantly improve patients’ phys­ical and mental well-​​being.

The BCM is fea­tured on the Web site of the Sub­stance Abuse and Mental Health Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion, a divi­sion of the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices — a status it was accorded only after a rig­orous two-​​year review of the model by a panel of national experts.

What makes the BCM approach unique, according to Insti­tute on Urban Health Research director Hort­ensia Amaro, is that it links sev­eral crit­ical fac­tors in the patients’ experience.

Women with drug addic­tion dis­or­ders have high rates of mental ill­ness and a his­tory of child­hood and adult phys­ical and sexual abuse, which are often both pre­cur­sors to and con­se­quences of drug abuse,” said Amaro, an asso­ciate dean and pro­fessor in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences who led the research and pro­gram development.

The BCM takes a multi-​​pronged approach, including phar­ma­co­log­ical and behav­ioral treat­ment for addic­tion, mental ill­ness and trauma. Addi­tion­ally, work­shops in lead­er­ship, eco­nomic plan­ning, family reuni­fi­ca­tion and par­enting allowed par­tic­i­pants to build the skills nec­es­sary for a suc­cessful recovery.

Women who par­tic­i­pated in the inte­grated BCM pro­gram showed supe­rior long-​​term ben­e­fits when com­pared to those who under­went tra­di­tional sub­stance abuse treat­ment. Par­tic­i­pants reported fewer mental health and post-​​traumatic stress symp­toms, fewer HIV risk behav­iors and more power in deci­sion making with their part­ners at both the 6– and 12-​​month marks after com­pleting the pro­gram. In addi­tion, BCM inter­ven­tion patients had higher drug absti­nence rates.

For Rita Nieves, the Boston Public Health Commission’s director of the bureau of addic­tion pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and recovery sup­port ser­vices, the pro­gram offers par­tic­i­pants a unique oppor­tu­nity to over­come their challenges.

The unique practice-​​research part­ner­ship between the com­mis­sion and the insti­tute allowed us to create and test this model,” said Nieves. “The data from the research shows sig­nif­i­cant gains for the par­tic­i­pants, and we hope that this model will be used by other providers across the country.”

View the pro­gram model: http://​www​.nrepp​.samhsa​.gov/​p​r​o​g​r​a​m​f​u​l​l​d​e​t​a​i​l​s​.​a​s​p​?​P​R​O​G​R​A​M​_​I​D​=​271

For more infor­ma­tion about Northeastern’s Insti­tute on Urban Health Research, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu/​b​o​u​v​e​/​r​e​s​e​a​r​c​h​/​I​U​HR/