More and more studies are revealing the differences between men and women in their experiences of addiction and recovery. It’s clear that women develop addictions for different reasons than men; they have different obstacles when it comes to acquiring sober help and they have different needs when finally achieving a sober life.
With this knowledge, the mental health community is beginning to cater to women differently in treatment, trying different tactics to prevent addiction in women, and using new models to get women into treatment sooner.
The following list summarizes the differences in addiction, recovery, and sober living between men and women:
- Women are less likely than men to use illicit drugs and develop drug related problems.
- Women drinkers tend to drink less alcohol less often than men do and are less likely than men to develop alcohol related problems.
- 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.
It’s clear that womens sober living homes 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. In fact, many community organizations are striving to provide services that meet the needs of women to support their arrival at a sober life.
The Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that treatment rehabilitative centers, as well as sober living homes 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. For this reasons, some womens sober living homes are offering such services as meditation, yoga, nutritional counseling, journaling, and guided imagery.
Even though addiction has long been considered “a man’s disease”, there’s no question that women are suffering from addiction, and in fact, women in addiction and recovery are growing in numbers across the country. As a result, womens sober living treatment services needs to change to meet their needs and not just the needs of men.
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