How to Help a Woman Who Is Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol

When it comes to addiction, women and men are vastly different. Historically, treatment centers haven’t recognized these differences nor have they changed their treatment modalities accordingly. However, today, there are a wide number of sober living homes and addiction treatment centers that are catering to the different needs of men and women. If you are a woman or you know of a woman struggling with addiction, this article will address some key components to a successful recovery.

First of all, it’s important to know that men and women do not respond to stressful experiences in the same way. Typically, when men exceed their stress level, they tend to retreat into their cave, such as going into the garage to work on their projects. Yet, women who have gone beyond their stress level tend to do the opposite. They don’t retreat; they seek out someone to talk to. Women tend to want to talk out their thoughts and feelings. However, if women don’t find someone to talk to, they can be vulnerable to coping with their stress in different ways – including through the use of drugs and alcohol.

For those women who do choose to manage their stress through substances, they might eventually try to hide the fact that their drinking or drug use has become an issue. The stigma of substance abuse is a problem for many women struggling with addiction. In fact, the stigma and the associated shame keep them from seeking treatment. But in addition to the stigma, there are some very real matters that keep women from getting treatment. These include:

  • Fear losing custody of their children.
  • Can’t find a way to take care of their children while in treatment.
  • Can’t find a treatment center that can help them with financial resources.
  • Can’t find a treatment center that is culturally appropriate for them, as in having Spanish-speaking staff.
  • Don’t want to enter treatment while pregnant.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that addiction treatment centers and sober living homes should consider a woman’s needs, the severity of the addiction, and her financial situation. Studies show that once a woman enters treatment, she is just as likely as a man to stay in treatment. However, there are certainly factors that will keep her in treatment, such as the presence of childcare, a collaborative approach to treatment, and a supportive environment. Also, treatment centers that can help a women find work and can help with other areas of life tend to also help a woman stay in treatment. Studies show that women who are employed and have support systems will have fewer relapses and will be more likely to maintain their sobriety.

Also sober living homes and treatment centers that are for women only also show a high success rate. In these healing environments, women can be mutually supportive by relating to one another and sharing personal stories. And, SAMHSA recognizes important factors that play a role in the sobriety of women, which include having a support significant other, having a family that cares, being older, and having at least a high school diploma.

These are the factors that can help a woman get sober and stay sober. Perhaps educating women on these key points can facilitate their recovery from addiction.


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