The specific risk factors for addiction within religious community members remain poorly understood and undefined. This paper presents data on the characteristics of chemically dependent women Religious (nuns) in order to understand the etiology and treatment needs of this special group. This study contrasts a group of Roman Catholic women Religious who are in treatment for chemical dependency with a volunteer, nonalcoholic, comparison group from similar religious communities. The treatment group had higher levels of mental health symptoms and past history of childhood trauma (parental separation or divorce, early loss of mother), compared to the volunteer sample. Family history of alcoholism did not differ, however, and prevalence of sexual abuse was more common for the volunteers than for those in treatment. Women Religious in this study resemble the classification of "negative affect" alcoholism (Cloninger Type I, Babor Type A), which is characterized by lower severity, prevalence of environmental over genetic risk factors, and less severe legal or social consequences. Implications for health screening and treatment of women Religious are addressed.