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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Why Some Have a Spiritual Crisis in Recovery

When a person gets sober, life turns upside down. You uncover aspects of your life that you’ve forgotten, and you let go of parts of your life that are unhealthy. Everything is different. And because of the grand change that takes place, some recovering addicts might go through a spiritual crisis.

Interestingly, there’s a saying in the mental health field that addicts are very spiritual people, but that they are knocking on the wrong door. Perhaps some addicts found a connection to the transcendental through drugs and drinking, and if all that needs to come to an end, then how is someone to experience that kind of spiritual connection again?

Some of the symptoms of a spiritual crisis might include:

  • Life feels meaningless.
  • Fear of losing one’s identity.
  • Fear of “going crazy”.
  • Life feels unreal or like a fantasy.
  • Feelings of great anxiety.
  • Fear of death.
  • Feelings of being a stranger in the world.
  • Urges to connect with a higher being or a transcendental source.
  • Depression.
  • Feeling the world to be threatening.

You might define a spiritual crisis as a time in life when you question yourself, your beliefs, and your view of the world. You might experience a significant change in your identity, which can leave you feeling disoriented and lost. You might go through a dark night of the soul or feel like a different person. You might not only feel like a different person, but you might not know who you are at all. This lack of identity can feel like a spiritual emergency.

In fact, many studies reveal that spirituality plays a significant role in one’s healing and transformation. For this reason, more and more treatment centers are including meditation, yoga, and other alternative type of practices to help foster meaning and purpose. In fact, a study done by Florida Atlantic University showed that the lack of certain spiritual factors (such as meaningful relationships and a connection to a higher power) is associated with alcohol abuse and drug addiction. According to the study, these same factors are also associated with other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as well.

If you feel like you are undergoing an identity crisis and a spiritual emergency, there are some resources available to you. First of all, you’re not alone. This experience is not unheard of among those in recovery. So, you can feel safe to talk about your experience at a 12-step meeting or a recovery group. Here are some additional steps to take if you feel like you are experiencing a spiritual crisis:

  • If you have a sponsor or therapist, talk to them about your experiences. They would want to know what is going on anyway.
  • Spend time with others, such as friends and family. You may or may not feel comfortable sharing your experience but at least the presence of others can keep you safe.
  • Visit a doctor for a medical checkup. You might be having symptoms of an illness.
  • If you’re not seeing a therapist, contact a mental health provider to be sure you’re not experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.
  • Talk to your priest, rabbi, or spiritual teacher.

In addition to the above, keep in mind that, in many cases, having a spiritual crisis is a stepping stone to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

 

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Attempting to Get Sober on Your Own

It’s very common for men and women who realize that they have an addiction to attempt to sober up by themselves. They might conclude that they can simply stop drinking or using drugs. And for some people, depending on the strength of their addiction, this is possible. However, if an addiction has been ongoing for a period of a year or more and if the drugs that a person is addicted to are severe or heavy, then quitting alone just may not work. This article will address the pros and cons to trying to get sober on your own.

There are many reasons that keep a person from entering drug treatment for addiction. They may not want their friends and/or family to know that their drug use or drinking has gotten out of control. They may not be able to afford treatment, or they may not be able to take the time off of work to participate in drug treatment. These are some common reasons that keep a person from utilizing treatment.

However, before trying to get sober on your own, it might be best to assess the severity of your addiction. There are a few things to consider:

  • The addictive quality of the drug you’re taking.
  • Whether you’re addicted to one substance or a combination of substances.
  • The length of your addiction.
  • The strength of your addiction.
  • Any underlying mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Any unresolved traumas or life events that might be underlying the addiction.
  • The effects that sobriety will have on your family, friends, and yourself.

These and other factors are important to consider when attempting to get sober. Frequently, a person does not recognize how great the problem is and moves towards sobriety on his or her own. However, if the addiction is strong or if there are any underlying issues then a person will likely to return using drugs or drinking again. If there is a strong dependence on the body and the brain, then a person will continue to experience cravings for a drug. And those cravings may be hard to resist.

Now, the difference with treatment is that a person has an enormous amount of support. Rather than facing sobriety alone, in treatment, a person has professionals, the relaxing and supportive environment, others who are also getting sober, classes on addiction, behavioral therapy and a medical doctor who can tend to the physical discomforts of detoxification. A person will still experience the challenges of getting sober, but in treatment, a person will have everything that he or she needs to face those challenges adequately.

Of course, it is up to a person facing an addiction whether they decide to get treatment or not. However, if they do it alone and do not have the right support, there’s a greater chance that a person would continue to relapse and return to the addictive patterns.

If you’re struggling with an addiction, contact a mental health professional – at the very least to discuss treatment options and see if they are right for you.

 

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