Addiction is a disease that affects not only the physical but also the psychological well being of an addict. For this reason, perhaps it’s obvious that the treatment of addiction for men and women should incorporate the differences between the genders. Women’s bodies are different than men’s as are their psychological and emotional responses to life. In the same way, their paths to addiction and their journey out of addiction is going to be different.
Although it’s still not common to find the division of men and women in addiction treatment and sober living homes, it is becoming more and more evident that gender specific treatment methods are necessary. For instance, the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that the following core principles are essential for the treatment of women in addiction recovery:
- Recognizing the role and significance of personal relationships in women’s lives.
- Addressing the unique health concerns of women.
- Acknowledging the importance and role of socioeconomic issues of women.
- Promoting cultural awareness in the treatment of women.
- Including a developmental perspective.
- Adopting a trauma-focus in treatment
- Incorporating an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to treatment for women
- Maintaining a gender specific environment across all treatment settings.
- Supporting the development of gender competencies specific to the issues of women.
Also, when taking into account the social roles that women take on, it’s clear that they face a number of challenges that get in the way to accessing treatment. For instance, the stigma of substance abuse is a problem for women struggling with addiction. The stigma and the associated shame keep them from seeking treatment. They may fear losing custody of their children, and other obstacles includes:
- Few resources for women with children.
- Lack of collaboration among social service systems.
- Lack of culturally congruent programming.
- Limited options for women who are pregnant.
SAMHSA suggests that treatment rehabilitative centers, as well as sober living for women, 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 factors that will keep her in treatment, such as the presence of childcare, a collaborative approach to treatment, and a supportive environment.
Perhaps this is why facilities of sober living for women only are becoming more and more the choice for women struggling with addiction. One of the greatest benefits of being in a women’s sober living home with other women who are also maintaining their sobriety is not too different than group therapy. Women can support one another by relating to them, sharing personal stories, and providing a level of support that family and friends who are not on the same path cannot. Furthermore, sober housing facilitates individual recovery by providing an environment that allows women to become self-supporting and develop their independence.
Studies also show that women who are employed and have recovery oriented support systems, similar to the environment found in sober living for women homes, will have fewer relapses and will be more likely to maintain their sobriety. Along these lines, one of the benefits of a sober living home, also sometimes referred to as a halfway house, is the freedom to be able to attend work, school, or family events. Lastly, 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.
It’s clear that homes of sober living for women only are necessary for the most effective treatment of female alcohol and drug addiction. Perhaps educating women on this key point can facilitate their recovery process.
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