From physical, chemical, and environmental perspectives, men and women have differing needs when considering addiction treatment. With this in mind, women will likely find more benefit in gender specific programs. Women’s addiction treatment programs take into account the different needs a woman may have and incorporate that into an individualized treatment plan.
Through women’s-specific treatments, women may find they are more comfortable and have greater rates of success when compared with a treatment program that is not female-specific.
Women differ from men in regards to their drug and alcohol rehabilitation needs. Examples include that they are often the caregivers for children and/or parents. Therefore, they may be less likely to seek rehabilitation because they do not feel they can pull themselves away from their care-taking duties or that they may lose custody of their children.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, women are more likely to seek the help of a general or mental health practitioner for their substance abuse problem instead of going to a rehabilitation facility. Women are also more likely to experience certain conditions that may make treatment for alcohol or drug dependence more difficult as discussed below. For example, a sexual trauma or physical abuse can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. A woman may begin to attempt to self-medicate to escape from the negative thoughts and feelings that can accompany PTSD.
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Unfortunately, there are several contributing factors that can lead to alcoholism or drug dependence that women are known to experience. These include the following:
- Parenting issues and treatment needs
- Self-esteem and self-confidence issues
- Social phobias
Examples of co-occurring disorders a person may have in addition to a drug or alcohol dependence include depression, anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Women suffering from co-occurring conditions need a dual diagnosis treatment program that addresses both conditions simultaneously. Often, when a woman receives treatment for a drug or alcohol dependence, receiving treatment for this condition will help reduce the symptoms of a co-occurring disorder as well.
Women’s-only treatments often involve stages of care. First, women must have the motivation to seek treatment. Some women may seek treatment on their own, but others may require motivational interventions from family and/or friends.
Detoxification is often the next step. In some instances, women may be able to take medications under medical supervision that will reduce the side effects of withdrawal. This is known as a medical detox.
After a woman detoxifies from drugs and/or alcohol, she will need continued support. This can include from a medical perspective, such as through methadone treatments, and psychiatric counseling. She may also benefit from addiction aftercare programs, including women’s-only support groups and/or programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
What is important to remember is that addiction is a chronic, commonly relapsing disease. Once a person struggles with the disease, the potential for relapse is likely. Due to this, aftercare programs and support from friends and family members is vital for a woman in recovery.
Women’s addiction treatment programs have benefited the lives of thousands of people every year. If you or a woman you love is struggling with addiction, do not hesitate to reach out for professional support. Gender specific programs have proven to provide lasting benefit.
- Women’s Health USA 2010 [PDF]. (2010). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Health Resources & Services Administration.
- Abuse, N. I. (n.d.). What are the unique needs of women with substance use disorders? Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/what-are-unique-needs-women-substance-use
- Regier, D. A., Farmer, M. E., Rae, D. S., Locke, B. Z., Keith, S. J., Judd, L. L., & Goodwin, F. K. (1990, November 21). Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse. Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2232018
Last updated on April 7th, 2017 at 02:28 pm