Clinical research on women and addiction are beginning to reveal very clear differences between men and women when it comes to addiction and recovery. Since the early 1960’s, women have been fighting for their equality with men in the workplace, at home, in religious traditions, and in the community. And even though they are certainly equal, women have different needs and vulnerabilities when it comes to receiving womens sober living treatment.
For instance, women:
- Get addicted differently.
- For different reasons.
- Progress faster in the destructive addiction cycle.
- Recover differently.
- Relapse differently.
- Tend to use less alcohol and illicit drugs, more prescription psychoactive drugs.
- Tend to get introduced to drugs through significant relationships.
- Accelerate to injecting drugs more quickly.
Frequently, addiction is not a single dimension issue for women. It often includes deep psychological patterning, including the experience of shame. In fact, shame becomes a thread woven into the addiction where women feel embarrassed or shameful for having an addiction in the first place. And although they might not yet see it as an addiction, they might see it as a problem they can’t control. Additionally, the shame might continue to grow and keeps them stuck in addiction. This alone might hinder them from getting sober help and seeking out a womens sober living treatment facility to go to.
In addition to this, females, particularly when they are young might develop a dependency for different reasons. For instance, boys tend to use drugs and alcohol for recreational purposes and because they like feeling the effect of drugs, while girls want to belong with their group, and they don’t want to hurt other’s feelings by not using. Interestingly, two things that most addicted women share are lack of healthy relationships and experience of trauma.
Relationships play a large role for women in their addiction development and in recovery. According to the authors of Addiction Treatment for Women: Theory and
Practice, “Historically women’s use of, and addiction to, alcohol and other drugs is closely related to their dependence on men – including their doctors.”
Additional differences between men and women in addiction and recovery include:
- When women do develop substance abuse problems, they report problems of greater severity and experience more health related consequences.
- Women’s problems related to substance abuse interfere with functioning in more areas of life than men’s do.
- Women are older than men are when they being drinking to intoxication but once they develop a pattern of regular intoxication they 1) encounter drinking-related problems more quickly than men and 2) lose control over their drinking more quickly then men.
- Women are more likely than men to encounter barriers that prevent them from seeking or following through with treatment.
- Women are more likely to experience economic barriers to sober living treatment.
- Women are more likely to have difficulty attending regular sober living treatment sessions because of family responsibilities.
- Women are more likely to report feeling shame or embarrassment regarding their participation in sober living treatment.
- When services such as housing, transportation, education, and income support are offered in addition to treatment, both men and women tend to have fewer relapses, but women are more in need of those additional services.
- When women also have anxiety and depressive disorders, which are more prevalent in women than men, it often prevents them from seeking sober help.
Pointing out the differences highlights the need for more womens sober living treatment facilities to tend to their specific needs and vulnerabilities differently. Womens sober living homes, for example, can facilitate recovery in females by providing treatment that tends to their unique needs both before, during, and after recovery.
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