There are many issues facing women who are struggling with addiction. Because women develop addictions for different reasons than men, they also have various differences from men in the way that they recover. For instance, women tend to progress faster in the destructive addiction cycle than men. They relapse differently, tend to use less alcohol and illicit drugs and more prescription psychoactive drugs, tend to get introduced to drugs through significant relationships, and accelerate to injecting drugs more quickly than men. As the drug and alcohol treatment field continues to improve, clear differences between the genders regarding addiction are being revealed.
One of the largest problems for women with addiction, especially those of low-income socioeconomic status, is an inability to find employment and keep employment after addiction treatment. Yet, according to a research study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), women who receive treatment in a gender-specific (all women) treatment facility are more likely to be employed 12 months after admission, compared to traditional treatment programs. The research also revealed that women who complete a treatment program are also more likely to be employed than those who do not complete their treatment.
The research study included the participation of 5,109 women who were treated at 13 different mixed-gender treatment facilities in the state of Washington. The study tested the relationship between the use of a women-specific treatment and subsequent employment. Various measures were used to act as controls in order to maintain the efficacy of the study. In the end, researchers were able to draw a conclusive relationship between the use of gender-specific treatment and employment after 12 months of being admitted to treatment.
Often, once a recovering addict is employed after treatment, holding a job can be a great indicator of that person’s success in their recovery stability. In many cases, especially for women, employment can serve as a protective means against relapse. Furthermore, there is often a healing cycle that takes place once a woman is working again. Typically what happens is that when a woman’s sense of self-worth improves so does her motivation for treatment. And as she improves in her treatment so does her sense of self-worth. Over time, a woman’s ability to function in her job performance and in her community overall dramatically improves.
In fact, other studies reveal that addiction treatment has been linked with subsequent improved job security, decreased absenteeism, reduction in employment concerns, decreased tardiness, less conflict among colleagues, and increased productivity. However, the authors of this research did point out that these improved employment measures are not always related to addiction treatment. The improvements are often a result of a number of different factors in a woman’s life.
In addition to the study just mentioned by NIDA, research conducted at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore revealed the connection between the relationship between addiction and unfortunate circumstances in employment. While the NIDA study uncovered a clear relationship between employment improvements and gender-specific treatment, the Johns Hopkins study showed that the presence of alcohol can have a negative impact on a woman’s career path. Researchers explored the presence of alcohol use disorders and work trajectory. Part of the study investigated whether men and women were drinking more than intended, made unsuccessful attempts to cut down on drinking, and participation in any sober living programs. As to be expected, lower work trajectory was linked to a higher rate of alcohol use disorders. This was true both at the beginning of the study as well as during the follow-up with participants of the study. Furthermore, career advances were associated with decreased alcohol use disorders rates for both men and women.
The results revealed that alcohol use disorders were initially present in about 15 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women. However, the relationship between the presence of alcohol use disorders and a downward career trajectory was stronger for women. The research confirms that the presence of alcohol use and dependency for women can affect their career path. And more specifically, it is a consequence of alcoholism, not a predictor, according to research.
However, even before getting treatment, women have unique obstacles that keep them from getting the help they need. Addiction is not a single dimension issue for women. It often includes deep psychological patterning. Yet, studies such as those mentioned in this article help the prevention of addiction in women as well as improve addiction treatment and stability in their recovery.
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