Past Press Releases


For Immediate Release: August 8, 2012

Michelle Porche, Ed.D., senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, presented two posters at the recent 120th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association(APA) in Orlando, Florida. Both papers describe results from a mixed-method study of adolescents in a residential addiction treatment program; data collection included chart reviews from 422 patients ages 14 to 18 and in-depth qualitative interviews with a subset of 40 of these patients.

“Gender, Social Learning and Adversity: Factors in Adolescent Development of Substance Use Disorders," authored by Porche and Lisa R. Fortuna, MD, MPH, M.Div, Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Department of Psychiatry, reports that socialization for boys regarding masculinity may increase susceptibility to peer pressure on substance use, while expectations about femininity may be a risk factor for girls for substance abuse disorders (SUD), particularly when strategies for control of difficult circumstances also involve cutting and disordered eating. Although fewer girls were in treatment compared to boys, girls’ reported substance use was higher for alcohol, opiates, and illicit prescription drugs.

The researchers also noted that common concerns about adolescent romantic relationships as risk factors for STDs and pregnancy may be overshadowing their potential influence on the development of SUDs. Initial drug use for girls was more often through boyfriends rather than peers. Therefore youth-based interventions may be strengthened by attention to gender socialization in romantic and peer contexts in order to foster prevention and assist in rehabilitation.

Porche also co-presented “Smoking and Co-occurring Disorders: Implications for Smoking Cessation Interventions for Adolescents in Residential Addiction Treatment” during the APA convention. This work, authored by Fortuna, Porche, EdD, Nazmun Alam, MPH, Krista M. Douglass, BA—a recent Wellesley College graduate (Class of 2012)—and Sun S. Kim, PhD., is just published in the Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 8(2), 133–139, 2012.

The research focused on the importance of considering co-occurring disorders when planning smoking cessation interventions with adolescents. The team identified factors associated with smoking and predictors for smoking cessation readiness. The researchers examined the relationships of smoking with use of other drugs, psychiatric disorders, and adverse events, and found that smoking is common in adolescents seeking drug and alcohol treatment and is correlated with the onset and progression of other drug use. Increasing motivation for change and addressing the interface of nicotine, other drugs, and mental health are important for smoking cessation interventions for adolescents in residential addiction treatment settings.

This research was supported by a grant to Fortuna by the Peter F. McManus Charitable Trust for the Factors in Adolescent Development of Substance Use Disorders Study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and conducted in collaboration Porche at the Wellesley Centers for Women. Porche and Fortuna will kick off the Wellesley Centers for Women’s free fall lunchtime seminar series with “Double Standards and Differentiated Gateways: Adolescent Girls and Boys at Risk for Substance Abuse” on September 27th at Cheever House, 828 Washington Street. Details will be posted later this month at

Scholars at the Wellesley Centers for Women undertake research and action projects that address three major areas: the social and economic status of women and girls and the advancement of their human rights both in the United States and around the globe; the education, care, and development of children and youth; and the emotional wellbeing of families and individuals.

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to use our site, or clicking "Continue", you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

For Journalists

Contact our external relations department to arrange an interview with a WCW expert:

  • 781.283.2500


Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to use our site, or clicking "Continue", you are agreeing to our privacy policy.
Continue Privacy Policy