The Effect of the Women’s Movement on Addiction

The Effect of the Women's Movement on Addiction | Transcend Recovery Community

During the late 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s, there was a great revolution for women. They were no longer bound by the demands of being a housewife, mother of children, and homemaker. Social changes were making it possible for women to take on new roles and break through the limitations placed upon them.

Yet, in many ways, women can get still get caught in situations, relationships, and work positions that lead to a loss of empowerment. Despite the advancements that women have made socially, there are still internal changes that each individual woman needs to make in order to feel empowered in their lives. In many ways, there are still women who need to work on themselves, investigate their thought patterns, and explore their own beliefs about their self-worth and empowerment.

For instance, having a strong sense of empowerment includes having an internal center of control. An individual’s internal sense of control is explained by the Attribution Theory. It’s a theory that describes how a person explains the events in his or her life. Having an internal center of control means that you believe in your ability to have control over the events in your life, to the degree that it is possible. This sense of internal power is considered to be the most psychologically healthy. It is living life with a feeling of having command over the things that you are able to have command over. However, an external center of control leads to relinquishing self-control and self-determination to a power outside of you.

And that’s often the trouble with addiction. More and more of one’s power is relinquished to a substance, such as alcohol or painkillers. And if women are accustomed to giving their power away, due to societal conditioning or perhaps conditioning from families, then it might be easy for women to develop addictions. Research shows that women develop addictions differently than men. And perhaps social conditioning is one reason for this difference.

Because women and men develop addictions for different reasons and have different needs throughout the process of recovery, more and more treatment centers are developing separate treatment opportunities for men and women. In fact, there are many mental health professionals who advocate the necessity for gender based treatment, indicating that men’s sober living homes and women’s sober living homes are not a luxury but a requirement for proper addiction treatment. William White, who has worked in the field of addiction treatment since 1969, wrote, “Gender based treatment and recovery support services exist as an appendage to the addiction treatment system, but have yet to be mainstreamed within that system.” As a strong advocate for gender based addiction treatment, White speaks to communities around the country on the topic.

Perhaps there are obvious reasons for gender based treatment centers and women’s sober living homes, but those reasons are not yet woven into addiction treatment methods in the United States. Obviously, women will have a different experience at a women’s sober living home than she would where both males and females were attending. When men are not living at the same sober living home, women can keep their thoughts and attention on their recovery without having romantic or erotic distractions. In addition to this clear benefit, being with other women undergoing the same process can be supportive. For example, rooming with another woman, attending group therapy with other women with the same concerns, and working with issues that are specific to the female gender can support the emotional and psychological healing that’s inherent in the recovery process.

Although many women have been able to roll with the social changes that have taken place since the 1960’s, there continue to be empowerment issues for many women. Often, these issues contribute to their addictions. For this reason, women need different recovery tools and environments in order to facilitate their long-term sobriety.

 

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