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Meehan launches initiative to help women suffering from substance abuse

Submitted by Libbie Hough, MSW ’84

Losing a loved one is always painful. But when UNC School of Social Work Board of Advisors member Prue Meehan, a local mental health advocate, realized the loss of several close friends to alcoholism could have been prevented, she was spurred to take action.

Meehan has launched a new website, The Women of Substance (TWOS),  to address a topic that few people acknowledge — alcohol and drug addiction among affluent women. Her research and personal experience confirm that this demographic is often overlooked with regard to diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

“Alcoholism among women of means is shrouded in shame and secrecy. The biggest challenge is acknowledging there is a problem and being willing to address it,” Meehan says. “This website equips family, friends and medical professionals with information and resources they need to confidently step up and guide these women to seek the help they need.”

According to Meehan, the rates of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse among upper income women are part of an invisible epidemic that is complicated by the special circumstances and needs of this unique group.  Through TWOS, she hopes to address this tragic reality by advocating for effective treatment and recovery options.

TWOS is specifically designed to educate family, friends, medical professionals and women who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. It features a comprehensive list of points to consider when searching for treatment alternatives as well as a list of resources – from web links and treatment programs to support groups and recommended reading.

“Years ago no one talked openly about breast cancer, but as that has changed we have raised awareness and improved diagnosis and treatment options to save women’s lives,” Meehan says. “My hope is that we can start achieving similar results through TWOS.”