the individual based on a number of needs. Your background, education level, vocation, cultural upbringing, and dozens of other factors need to be considered to create the best treatment plan for you—the individual.
While many of the challenges of addiction are common, women and men often face different sets of challenges. Creating gender-responsive drug treatment plans for women is one key way to create personalized treatment.
Regarding drug and alcohol treatment, women may face a different set of challenges than men. There are an estimated 2.7 million women in the United States who abuse drugs and alcohol. With an increasing body of research done on the effects of drug addiction on women, it is found that women represent the demographic where addiction rates are increasing, especially with prescription painkiller addiction and overdoses. Women also experience higher rates of co-occurring disorders such as depression and PTSD compared to drug addicted men.
Despite these trends, women have greater difficulty in drug treatment, especially with finding appropriate drug treatment options that suit their particular needs. Studies also suggest that women are more hesitant to find treatment but more likely to use support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Why Drug Treatment For Women Should be Gender-Specific
Drugs and alcohol can have different effects of different people. In many ways, these differences are easy to spot between men and women. Because women face different challenges with substance use, their needs must be met with unique treatment options. According to The National Institute of Drug Addiction (NIDA), women often report reasons for using drugs that are unique to reasons men usually give.
They say, “…women themselves describe unique reasons for using drugs, including controlling weight, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, and self-treating mental health problems.”
Because of the different biological factors in men and women, chemical substances can affect women in ways that are different than men. Factors like relative weight and size, sex-specific hormones, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy may all play a role in a person’s response to a chemical substance. NIDA also reports differences in the way women process drugs and alcohol that can be a significant factor in the development of addiction and are relevant to overcoming addiction. Differences can be as follows:
- Women may become addicted after using smaller amounts of certain drugs than men.
- Women respond to drugs differently in ways that cause them to have more drug cravings and a higher likelihood of relapse.
- Some studies suggest that certain sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to some drugs. Some suggest that menstrual cycles can also exasperate drug cravings and relapse potential.
- Drugs may affect the heart and blood vessels of women more intensely.
- Women may experience changes in the brain that are unique to the changes men experience, after drug use.
- Women are more likely to experience serious overdose effects that result in death or hospitalization.
Biological factors aren’t the only ways that women have to face unique challenges in addiction and addiction treatment. Social factors play a major role as well. Women are much more likely to be the victims of severe domestic violence with 25 percent of women and 14 percent of men being the victims sever physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Abuse and trauma are risk-factors for addiction and women who have been the victims of domestic violence are at increased risk for a substance use disorder.
Like men, women may develop a substance use disorder after a divorce, loss of child custody, or the death of a partner. Traumatic or challenging events can trigger addiction or mental health disorders. There may also be a stronger link between the abuse of certain substances and co-occurring anxiety or depressive disorders.
What Are the Unique Needs of Women in a Drug Addiction Treatment Center?
There are many factors that lie at the roots of drug and alcohol addiction in women. Perhaps the most important factor that leads to the development of substance abuse in women is the stress in their environment brought on by their relationships. When compared to men, women are more likely to start using substances because a boyfriend, husband, or family member introduces them to drugs and/or alcohol.
Women are also more likely to be exposed to a chaotic, argumentative, and violent household environment. Often, the stress and trauma of those situations lead to the development of co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. As a result, women may turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with these stresses.
Regarding health, women develop adverse health consequences from the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs over shorter time periods and with lower consumption than men. This phenomenon results in women entering substance abuse treatment at generally the same ages as men, but with shorter histories of substance abuse and more severe consequences. In addition to the psychological and physical complications they can experience, women also face unique social issues in regards to finding treatment itself.
One obstacle that has been noted as a barrier to treatment was financial and domestic hardship. Even if arrangements are made, they may face resistance and even hostility from their spouse, boyfriend, or family. Another obstacle is social isolation which can be attributed to the stigma felt by women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Women tend to hide their drug and alcohol addiction due to intense feelings of guilt or shame. There may be also fear of the loss of the nurturer role.
Our Women’s Drug Treatment Program
When women enter Arete Recovery’s alcohol and drug treatment program, they will undergo an individualized drug treatment for women that features a unique holistic approach as well as a full continuum of care that is delivered by experienced and compassionate staff throughout a client’s stay in treatment. Our Florida women’s alcohol and drug rehab programs feature services that are geared toward the unique needs of women.
Drug and Alcohol Treatment
Since every client is different in their treatment needs, our Florida women’s drug and alcohol rehab offers a wide variety of treatment services, like our long-term drug rehab program, which can be tailored to effectively meet those needs throughout the treatment process. While our programs feature both individual and group therapy, our women’s treatment programs emphasize group therapy settings in which women can feel nurtured and empowered by others who share similar experiences. Additionally, our drug treatment programs feature life and coping skills, training, and a variety of holistic therapy approaches that can give those in treatment a better chance by addressing their addiction in mind, body, and soul.
These services are available on an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment basis where clients live on the grounds of the facility or in an outpatient treatment setting where clients can attend programming during the day or at night while being able to live at home and attend to their family and work commitments.
While successfully completing a drug treatment program is a major accomplishment, the real work in recovery begins after treatment. To help women get the extra support and motivation they need to make their transition to their home life easier, Arete Recovery offers aftercare options including outpatient counseling, sober living, and alumni programs. These aftercare programs focus on relapse prevention and help women find the essential resources in their community that will help them stay sober.