Melanie Smith

Forward Leeds will soon be hosting West Yorkshire’s sole women-only SMART Recovery[1] meeting. It will also be the first ever women-only SMART meeting for Leeds.

The new meetings begin on Tuesday 5 March and will be facilitated by Melanie Smith (pictured) at the Forward Leeds hub at Armley Park Court.

Melanie said: “I think there is a need for a women’s only group where women can discuss their issues in a safe environment. Most clients in substance misuse treatment are male and historically as well as culturally the way in which treatment programmes and recovery groups have been established and run reflects this.”

There can be significant differences between the needs of men and women with substance misuse problems. Research[2] has shown that there are many reasons that women only support groups are beneficial including:

  • The causes of men and women misusing substances are often very different.
  • Lots of the issues emerging in recovery for women are different from those that occur for men.
  • Peer support groups are designed for those with similar life experiences to offer mutual support. Making peer support group membership more consistent can increase the support level.
  • Women-only support groups can address factors that women who have issues around substance misuse more commonly experience such as being caregivers, work/life balance, etc.
  • Women may feel more comfortable discussing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse with other women.
  • Women with co-occurring disorders may feel more comfortable discussing other issues with women in a closed environment.

The research articles listed below highlight how women often experience quite different issues associated with substance misuse from those experienced by men. That’s why it is important to let women open up and share in a group that caters to their particular needs.

The new women only SMART meetings will run at Armley Park Court every Tuesday from 12pm-1.30pm. All women are welcome to attend. Call 0113 887 2477 or email for more information.

[1] UK SMART Recovery (UKSR) is a registered charity which promotes choice in recovery through a national network of mutual-aid meetings and online training programmes with comprehensive teaching materials and manuals. The Programme teaches rational, easy to learn and self-empowering skills to help participants abstain from any addictive behaviour and to develop a lifestyle that supports sustained recovery.

[2] Greenfield, Shelly F et al. “A qualitative analysis of women’s experiences in single-gender versus mixed-gender substance abuse group therapySubstance use & misuse vol. 48,9 (2013): 750-60 and Tuchman, Ellen “Women and Addiction: The Importance of Gender Issues in Substance Abuse Research“, Journal of Addictive Diseases, vol. 29,2 (2010): 127-138

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