SAMHSA reports that men tend to have higher rates of drug abuse than women, in all categories of drugs except prescription painkillers. Addictions are generally behavioral disorders that are more common in men than in women. For women who do suffer from substance use disorders, there is a deviation from the typical norms of society which can increase feelings of shame and guilt typically associated with all addicts. Women who struggle with drug and alcohol use disorders tend to come from or live in environments where violence and other forms of abuse are common. They also tend to be survivors of childhood trauma and each of these environmental characteristics tends to contribute to women building up an emotional front which can also hinder their ability to acknowledge their problem with substances and addiction. Women’s rehab programs take into account the various factors which influence addiction in women and their personalized struggles such as loss, insecurity, and depression. More importantly, women’s rehab programs have began to make their treatment more accessible breaking down the financial barriers women face in treatment and offering childcare so that parental responsibilities don’t prevent them from receiving the level of care they require.
It is widely recognized that up to 80% of women experiencing difficulties with substance abuse or addiction have also faced a traumatic event at some point in their past. Physical and emotional abuse are two main contributing factors behind the development of a drug or alcohol addiction in women. For many women who seek addiction treatment, individual counseling and intensive therapy will be needed to address the psychological issues that led to this addictive behavior.
Gender-specific treatment programs can improve recovery success rates in women struggling with a substance use disorder. Women are more likely to benefit from being in a more comfortable setting offered by gender-specific programs. Group treatment consisting of only female participants can allow these women to feel safe about addressing traumatic experiences, such as sexual assault. Women’s programs provide safety for females, address issues relating to self-destructive attitudes and behaviors surrounding addictive use, and can also offer specialized services for pregnant women struggling to overcome addiction.
Addiction treatment for women is essential because it is concentrated entirely on the female mind and body, as well as the unique issues related to their addiction. Women’s rehab programs go above and beyond what co-ed programs can, as it eliminates distractions and tailors its efforts towards the needs of one gender, rather than two.
How Women’s Needs Differ From Men’s
Drugs can impact females differently and more rapidly than males. One is example is cocaine. Cocaine, in particular, has been shown to work on women’s physiology much faster than men and is highly addictive to women. Cocaine is a stimulant and can loosen inhibitions enough so that women end up engaging in high risk sex with multiple partners, exposing them to sexual abuse as well as STDs. So drug dependency can happen as a way to self-medicate for anxiety, depression, or pain issues, but it can also occur because of traumatic events going on in their lives. Here is just a short list of the types of events and conditions that can influence women to seek relief in drug abuse:
Loss – Loss of a loved one, child, spouse, or a parent can catapult women into clinical depression. This can lead to an increase in alcoholism or drug abuse as a way to hide the depression. They may decide that popping a few pills is a low price to pay to keep them on the job, taking care of their kids, or managing their many responsibilities.
Abuse, Trauma, and PTSD – Women coming out of violent situations will need specialized treatment. Rape and domestic violence survivors will not trust men and will need to be isolated from them in a safe space during recovery and rehab. Otherwise, it can trigger more anxiety and panic attacks and jeopardize their treatment.
Parenting Issues – The stress of single parenting and/or economic hardship while parenting can lead some women into drug abuse. When domestic violence is added to the mix, it can be a way to self-medicate for a bad situation. Parenting issues can be addressed in facilities that help by offering childcare and a safe space away from domestic violence.
Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Issues – After being in a codependent or an abusive relationship, a women’s self-esteem and confidence can drop dramatically. Also, teenage girls are more prone to experiment with drugs when they are at a stage where they haven’t developed enough self-esteem and confidence to keep from going with the crowd. Programs that teach assertiveness and setting boundaries can target self-esteem and confidence to help empower them. Individual counseling and therapy can help females by helping them adopt new behaviors to old problems.
Social Phobias – Anxiety and panic attacks can result from social phobias and women are prone to these types of mental disorders more than men. They can be difficult to treat as a dual diagnosis and require specialized treatment programs with psychotherapy and sometimes pharmacological help too.
There are clear gender differences in how men and women develop and recover from addiction. While most traditional treatment models were designed to address the needs of men, health professionals and researchers have improved the availability and effectiveness of addiction treatment programs designed specifically for women.
Women’s treatment programs at Restore Health and Wellness Centers combine traditional therapies with a range of holistic or alternative therapies. Some commonly incorporated alternative therapies include art or creative therapies that offer non-vocal forms of expression. Yoga, meditation and exercise also help to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, while simultaneously improving levels of self-esteem.
Educational programs and job skills training are also helpful additions to addiction recovery for women. Offering females in recovery with the opportunity to improve their own financial stability helps to instill a stronger sense of self-worth.
Regular attendance at women’s group support meetings is highly beneficial. Group meetings are ideal for reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness, as each meeting is accompanied by women who are going through similar challenges in life and with addiction.
Recovery Tools in Women’s Rehab Programs
Women also have far more demands put on them in their relationships and it may make it difficult for them to go to an inpatient women’s addiction treatment center to get help. They may be pregnant and using or have multiple kids that depend on them. They may not be able to leave their job for 30, 60, or 90 days to go into rehab as they may be the sole provider for their kids. Thus, women’s drug addiction treatment centers have to be flexible with outpatient programs as well as inpatient programs that might offer childcare or specialized prenatal care for drug addicted mothers.
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