Substance abuse is an important risk factor for offending, but is mostly studied in males. The aim of this multicentre study is to gain insight into possible gender differences in substance abuse history and offending behavior in forensic psychiatric patients. Files were analyzed of 275 women and 275 matched men who have been admitted between 1984 and 2014 to one of four Dutch gender-mixed forensic hospitals. Risk assessment ratings were related to registered violent incidents during treatment for both women and men and to official recidivism data after discharge for a subgroup of 78 women. Substance abuse history was coded as a risk factor for more than half of the women (56.7%), but significantly more often for men (68.4%). Men were more often diagnosed with substance dependence and more frequently committed the index-offense whilst intoxicated. Prediction of violent incidents during treatment was more accurate for men. A history of substance abuse was not a significant predictor for recidivism after discharge in the subgroup women. It is concluded that there are gender differences in substance abuse history and that the relationship with offending behavior seems stronger for men. These differences have implications for substance use treatment in forensic mental health services.