sealPurdue Science Briefs

October 1996

Female drug abusers find it more difficult to get help

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Women have more difficulty than men getting drug treatment and sticking with it, according to a Purdue University study.

"Only 31 percent of the clients in drug and alcohol treatment centers are women. But given the numbers of women whom we believe are abusing drugs, the split should be 50-50," says Robert Lewis, Purdue's Norma H. Compton Distinguished Professor of Child Development and Family Studies.

Lewis directed the six-year study of drug treatment therapies for women at centers in the Phoenix area. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"Most drug treatment programs in the United States are developed by men, with men and for men," he says. "It's rare that drug treatment takes into account the special needs of women."

The most frequent reasons given by women for discontinuing drug therapy sessions were the lack of child care and transportation. Lewis says often women not only care for young children but also are the primary caregivers for elderly parents or disabled husbands. "Significant others and family members may resist a woman's staying in residential treatment or transporting her to outpatient sessions because this disrupts the family system," he says.

And, if a woman is pregnant, most agencies will not treat her because of liability problems. "Detoxification is difficult for pregnant women," Lewis says. "It's ironic that just at the time when you'd think that we want women to stop abusing drugs, they can't get help."

Other factors that can keep both men and women from receiving drug treatment include cost and availability. Residential programs can costs thousands of dollars. Lewis says women often find few places where they can seek treatment, and the agencies that are accessible to them usually have long waiting lists.

Safety is another factor in getting to treatment centers. "Drug programs rarely are found in the women's own neighborhoods," he says. "Traveling at night -- even in one's own vehicle -- can be dangerous," he says.

CONTACT: Lewis, (765) 494-2931; e-mail,

Teens with a brand preference choose to smoke, drink more often

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A copy of the 30-page study or an abstract are available from Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Teens with a preference for a particular brand of cigarette or beer are using those substances more and are more likely to use them in the future, according to a study of more than 4,000 ninth- and 11th-grade students.

"Research shows that knowledge of beer and cigarette brands alone does not indicate usage. However, our study shows that having a preferred brand seems to be a factor in both current use and intention to use in the future," says Robert. A. Lewis, the Norma H. Compton Distinguished Professor of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University and expert on drug abuse.

A large proportion of students reported having cigarette or beer brand preferences regardless of whether they were regular users. "Two-thirds of the regular cigarette smokers indicated a preferred brand, and even among those who had smoked only once or twice, 12 percent had a brand preference," Lewis says.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Substance Abuse.

Overall, the older the student, the more likely it was that they would have a beer or cigarette brand preference, with preferences tending to increase with each grade. "Adolescents are more likely to have a preferred brand of beer than brand of cigarette, which runs parallel with alcohol and cigarette usage rates," Lewis says.

Lewis says other researchers have found that adolescent smokers are more aware of cigarette advertisements than non-smokers. And persons with a favorable response to cigarette advertising are more likely to smoke that first cigarette. "While this study cannot conclude that brand preferences were directly tied to cigarette and beer advertising, we do think this is the case," Lewis says. "The development of brand preference or loyalty is the declared goal of advertising."

The study was based on data from drug use questionnaires distributed to students at 47 schools in northwest Indiana and northeast Illinois. The study was conducted by Lewis and two former Purdue doctoral students. It was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

CONTACT: Lewis, (765) 494-2931; e-mail,

To receive the full text of a news release about the study, send an e-mail message to that says "send punews 9609f13"

Study: Two-pronged effort can cut smoking deaths by 40%

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- School-based anti-smoking programs, complemented by similar programs in the community, can reduce premature smoking-related deaths by 40 percent, according to a computer simulation.

Purdue University's James G. Anderson and researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine predict those results based on a computer simulation model they developed to analyze the effectiveness of four types of smoking interventions for persons up to 25 years of age. The model projects how much each program would cut smoking-related deaths as the individuals aged. The researchers based the study on a population of about 80,000 youths and the current number of smoking-related deaths in various age groups.

The program must last at least a year to be effective, says Anderson, professor of medical sociology.

"Basically, you want the anti-smoking push to come from more than one source," he says. "What you need is classroom education as well as community-awareness programs."

The next most effective method was a school-based program that helps adolescents become aware of how cigarettes are marketed to them. It cut the rate of smoking-related deaths by 34 percent.

The least effective methods were brief counseling by physicians on the harmful effects of tobacco products, and active enforcement of tobacco laws to prevent the sale of cigarettes to minors. These two methods reduced deaths by 2.5 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Approximately 18 percent of all health care costs in the United States are related to smoking, as is one in five deaths, Anderson says. Ninety percent of smokers begin the habit before 25 years of age, with most of that group beginning between 15 and 19 years. By age 19, one-fifth of the population smokes.

"Each year approximately one million teen-agers become nicotine-dependent cigarette smokers," he says. "For those who become regular smokers, about one-half will die prematurely of smoking-related diseases. A lot of people don't realize that people begin dying in their 30s from smoking-related diseases such as emphysema, asthma and cancer."

The study was presented at a conference called Simulation in Medical Sciences, sponsored by the Society for Computer Simulation. The study was funded by the Indiana University School of Medicine.

CONTACT: Anderson, (765) 494-4703; e-mail,

Compiled by Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081; Internet,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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