Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Rich, poor, young, old, male, female—addiction occurs in all these populations. And while the principles of recovery are the same for all, approaches and strategies may be different for women. Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness are required for everyone seeking recovery. The progression of addiction for women may not match up with treatment/recovery programs designed originally for men.
Eighty years ago, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous informed readers that women progress faster in addiction than men. According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, this assertion has been verified by science. Women process substances differently through ingestion routes, and do not break down these chemicals as quickly, because of body composition differences. Drugs and alcohol stay in the female body longer, inflicting more damage. Women tend to become inebriated on smaller amounts of alcohol than men. Data published by Harvard Medical School indicates that women are more likely to abuse opioid medications prescribed for pain, and are more often treated in emergency rooms for presenting problems related to the use of these drugs. They have a higher incidence of opioid overdose than men.
In the treatment environment, women often face different challenges. The shame of addiction is often more severe in women seeking sobriety. Societal judgment is typically more unforgiving, “how could she do this… she has two beautiful kids…” “it must be that guy…” Women often feel they cannot leave their children, who will care for them or the house, their mate may not support treatment and may even ask those very same questions. Child-care issues are more common, as are child custody concerns. Shame and guilt often perpetuate the addiction and the vicious cycle of addiction.
Research has shown that women in treatment are more likely to have experienced some types of abuse. This increased likelihood of traumatic personal history results in greater occurrences of some personality disorders and self-mutilation disorders. Metabolic differences and nutritional requirements for women are an important component of their recovery, as women frequently suffer more severe health consequences as a result of substance abuse. The Biology Of Sex Differences medical journal has proposed a hypothesis stating that women may develop addictions more quickly than men, because of gender differences in the way the neural systems for motivation and reward are organized.
At Sobriety Matters, we address the special needs of our female clients. Gender groups and gender-specific treatment planning allow women to evaluate situations and relationships, to determine if they support the recovery journey. Female counseling staff members are prepared to assist clients in identifying both positive and negative aspects of the client’s life before entering treatment. Relationship issues and parenting concerns are examined, with an emphasis on finding solutions. Therapeutic interventions to address trauma-related issues are integrated into treatment planning.
Recovery is based on communication and connection. At Sobriety Matters, we help women find their skills, and use them to rebuild self-reliance. If you are a woman seeking recovery or know a woman who needs recovery, call Sobriety Matters at 713-904-4699. We are here for you!