Women with alcohol problems constitute an increasing number of patients in medical service. Do they need special care? How should the treatment program be designed?

The specialized female Karolinska Project for Early Treatment of Women with Alcohol Addiction (EWA) unit at the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, was opened in 1981. The aim of the project is to reach women in an early stage of alcohol dependence behavior and to develop treatment programs specific to the needs of females alone.

In order to investigate the value of such a specialized female unit a controlled 2-year follow-up study was carried out including 200 women. The probands were treated in the female only EWA-unit, whereas the controls were placed in the care of traditional mixed-sex alcoholism treatment centers.

The 2-year follow-up study showed a more successful rehabilitation regarding alcohol consumption and social adjustment for the women treated in the specialized female unit (EWA). Improvement was noted also for the controls but to a lesser extent. Probably one of the most important achievements of a specialized female unit, such as EWA, is to attract women to come for help earlier.