Women’s Issues in Substance Abuse Treatment

Women’s Issues in Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction and treatment do not have boundaries.  They do not discriminate in terms of gender, culture, or religious preference; however, there are different ways in which men and women experience addiction and treatment.

Men typically report higher incidences of substance use and addiction but that is changing.  Young women and young adult women are showing equal rates of abuse and dependence as men.  Women do progress faster in the addiction than men and recent scientific evidence explains how this happens.

Women process alcohol and other substances differently.  This occurs because of a stomach enzyme that is responsible for breaking down substances.  This leads to a higher blood alcohol concentration.  Women also have more fatty tissue, which means that alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream more efficiently.  If a woman has one drink, they can experience twice the physical effects than men.  Over time, the brain and other organs become exposed to higher concentrations of alcohol and for longer periods of time.  The brain and other organs can become more damaged.

Treatment for an addiction is provided to those who want it regardless of gender.  There are 12-step meetings that are specifically for women and this can be beneficial for some women.  Individual and group therapy are available to all, as are inpatient and outpatient programs.

Some women experience more shame and guilt associated with their addiction, which may deter them from seeking help.  When women do seek treatment, they want to feel connected to others and to have a sense of belonging, therefore, this should be a focus of treatment.  Women do have different needs and may need to work on different issues than men.  Women may need help with becoming empowered and learning to trust themselves.

Women do have specific issues that do need to be addressed in treatment for substance abuse.  These include pregnancy, existing children in the home, family-life skills, and medical services.  Women may be the primary caregiver in the home, therefore the care of other children need to be addressed.  Some women may not have access to child care and may feel unable to leave the home for treatment.

There is research that suggests women do remain in treatment equally to men once treatment has started.  Women are encouraged to continue treatment because of the support provided.  Many women will form alliances and friendships with others, thus making treatment a warm and welcoming environment.

Hired Power is a recovery services family providing personal guidance so you can bring recovery home. From safe passage to recovery assistants, our goals is to support you every step of the way. Please call us at (800) 910-9299.