How Renascent Delivers Equitable Access to Addiction and Mental Health Treatment for Women

Women experiencing addiction and mental health issues face different challenges to men. They have different treatment issues and needs. Providing access to gender-responsive care is critical to ensuring that women can recover from addiction.

Sixty-seven percent of women served in our live-in treatment centres in 2022-2023 reported that their income is derived from Ontario Works/Ontario Disability Support Program compared to just over 50% for men.

Renascent has been committed to removing the barriers women face since opening one of Ontario’s[i] first live-in addiction treatment centres for women in 1981. Here is how:

  • Physician Care: Studies have shown that addiction advances more rapidly in women and they are at greater risk of health complications as a result. All women who enter live-in treatment at Renascent’s women’s centre – Renascent Graham Munro Centre – receive care from Dr. Vera Tarman, Medical Director and addictions specialist, who compassionately supports clients’ stabilization, acts as a primary physician, and more.

  • Caring for the Vulnerable: Acknowledging that they need help and reaching out for it can be difficult for women, increasing the disparities and vulnerabilities they face. Renascent works with people who have a low-income, are homeless living in the shelter system, or receiving support from Victim Services, as well as incarcerated women, and women who have experienced trauma, physical/mental abuse, and those who face a variety of systemic, cultural and socio-economic barriers.

  • Trauma–informed Therapies: Women experience higher levels of trauma than their male counterparts. These elevated levels of trauma must be addressed for long-term recovery to be possible. To address this need, Renascent uses a range of trauma-informed therapies, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Mindfulness Therapy, as well as art-therapy, meditation, and wellness rooms, to create a therapeutic environment where women can heal, recover, and learn how to cope with life’s challenges.

  • Skilled and Expert Team: To ensure we are able to meet the needs of clients, Renascent’s Clinical team includes a Certified Trauma-specialist, Board Certified Addiction Physician and Registered Psychotherapists and Certified Addiction Counsellors with lived-experiences of addiction and recovery.

  • Holistic Support: Through counselling and community partnerships, Renascent addresses the unique and holistic needs of women, including their physical and psychological and social needs. This includes addressing issues women commonly struggle with such as concerns related to body image, sexuality, pregnancy or postpartum depression, and parenting.

  • Life-long Support for All: Renascent treats addiction as a disease which impacts the entire family unity. Many women who attend treatment have children and Renascent provides support for them and other family members through our Children’s and Family Programs. To help ensure women have the support needed for their long-term recovery, Renascent also offers access to a Continuing Care Program and Alumni Program.

In 2022/23, 130 women per year receive access to addiction treatment and mental health support through Renascent’s live-in treatment.

[i] Prendergast, Michael L. (Ph. D.); Messina, Nena P. (Ph. D.); Hall A. Elizabeth (Ph. D.); Warda, Umme S. (M.S.) “The relative effectiveness of women-only and mixed-gender treatment for substance-abusing women” Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 40 (2011) 336-348

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.