My main area of research is women with alcohol addiction: treatment and long term outcome. Why is this topic so important? My answers are the following: More women drink, and they drink more when drinking. Also, they start drinking at a younger age, and continue drinking through a longer lifespan. Women with alcohol addiction have higher mortality rates and develop more serious somatic health complications, compared to men. Of special importance is the serious injuries inflicted upon their babies, by women who drink during pregnancy. Since the consequences for public health are so important, and relatively few researchers have been involved in this area of clinical research, I decided to make it my focus of interest more than twenty years ago.
During the 1990-ties I worked at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, with research related to the project “Early treatment of Women with Alcohol addiction (EWA) “ – a clinical research program started by the pioneer Lena Dahlgren in 1981. Women not previously treated for alcohol addiction were included in a program specifically developed to meet these women’s needs. The results from this treatment program have been widely published. The last study from this program was related to long term mortality for a sample of 420 women treated ·from 1981 (Haver B et al. Addiction 2009:104:413-419). Two new studies are accepted for publication in 2011, of which one is a follow-up study of a randomized, controlled trial (RCT) involving 200 women seeking treatment at the EWA unit in 1983-1984. Half of the women participated in the EWA program, while the other half received treatment at a mixed gender unit, with no treatment program specifically addressing women (Treatment As Usual TAU). This study – with up to 25 year’s mortality data for the two groups – is unique in a worldwide perspective.