Our current culture is keen on promoting the idea that sex and gender differences are a myth. While it is true that stereotypical roles for males and females have been changing for years, there still exists social and biological differences between the sexes. Growing up as a female involves situations that males will not ever experience. From the transformative experience of having a first period, to being gawked at by strangers after developing breasts, to the mind boggling process of forming another human life within our bodies, a female’s journey is quite filled with wonder.
The exclusive experiences that come with being a woman also involve unique challenges. A woman’s self-esteem can be negatively affected by societal expectations of female beauty. She can be torn between dedicating time to raise children, or toward succeeding in a career. She can experience stress over needing to balance the needs of her immediate family, while being called upon to care for her extended one. She can be confused over how to go about choosing an applicable mate in this age where women’s roles have expanded to include the ability to earn her own income.
Just as with the rest of life’s experiences, the experience of a woman in addiction is a personal one. The conditions of life which lead her down that path of self-destruction are those which are only truly understood by other women. A period of time which is spent in a women-only sober living environment can provide the support and validation that is necessary for healing from the negative self-perceptions and life perspectives which prompt us toward using drugs and alcohol.
Relationships and Relapse
It is common knowledge that women tend to value the quality of their relationships above all else. Whether it be ties to parents, siblings, children, partners, or coworkers, females are prone toward wanting those relationships to be mutually nurturing and supportive. It is suggested, by some, that these tendencies date all the back to our cave dwelling days. During the time of hunters and gatherers, it was women who spent time working together to sustain the relationships of a home life. As society progressed into the development of civilizations, this natural tendency toward nurturing relationships became a dictated duty.
The importance which females place on their relationships can be a source of great joy, and a source of great stress. When relationships are going well, women report a higher satisfaction with their quality of life. When relationships are strained, neglectful, or abusive, women can suffer from mental health problems for years to come. Women report more instances than men of returning to abuse of substances as an attempt to cope with the stress of their difficult relationships.
The impact of quality of relationship on a woman’s tendency toward relapse points toward the importance of ensuring that she has access to a recovery environment which is supportive and positive. She will benefit from a lack of distraction by romantic partners or old connections while she seeks to rid herself of the destructive patterns of addiction. An all-women’s sober living home is designed to provide this type of environment. Within it, you will be supported by a network of sisters who have suffered in ways similar to your own, and who have similar goals, hopes, and dreams. It is a place to form new, healthier, relationships with those who genuinely want the best for you.
Women and Mental Health Needs
While mental health disorders are on the rise in all segments of our population, women consistently report more experiences of depression. In addition to the powerful impact that relationships have, women are also beset by unique challenges within our current times. In this modern age of liberation, women are expected to pursue education, become successful in a career, raise children, and manage a home. The pressure of wearing too many hats can create a strain on a woman’s mental and emotional resources, leading her toward a feeling of hopelessness and desperation.
While time spent in a women’s sober living environment is not likely to erase the source of multiple pressures on women to succeed, it can be a place where new perspectives on how to manage life are gained. Recovery curriculum and support groups can be catered to the unique experiences of a woman, and can specifically address ways in which she can find more balance and satisfaction in her life. The better able one is to successfully manage life, the less temptation there will be to escape it through drug or alcohol abuse.
Empathy and Validation
Studies have shown that women tend to become addicted to substances less often than men do. What women lack in sheer numbers of those addicted, however, they make up for in extremity. Females who engage in substance abuse tend to become addicted more quickly, suffer more consequences in their relationships, and have a higher rate of relapse than their male counterparts. Any woman who has been shamed by others for being extreme in her substance abuse behaviors is not alone. The experience is common among women who seek escape through such behaviors.
There is a freedom which comes from knowing that we are not alone in our suffering. For females, this form of empathy and validation of experience can be even more powerful, as we tend to place so much emphasis on the opinions and input of those around us. Being around those who shame and judge us for our shortcomings does nothing to improve our life view, or reduce our desire to self-destruct. To the contrary, being affirmed and valued for what makes us strong and beautiful is what gives us the boost needed to make successful life changes.
A women’s sober living home is designed to provide these forms of positive feedback. With the help of your sisters, you will begin to remember the you which was lost during your struggles with addiction. You will be empowered toward finding true purpose in life, and feel the satisfaction of helping those around you in doing the same.