Substance abuse affects women differently than men. Although they may be effected by similar issues, women have different needs based on their unique experiences. A women’s rehab center provides therapies that address gender-specific issues while building a strong female community. In order to effectively treat addiction in women, it is important to approach issues from a female perspective, addressing topics such as body image, self-esteem, and boundaries.
Gender-specific therapies are critical in recovery. For women, discussing sensitive topics that affect them more deeply than men can be uncomfortable in mixed gender settings. Some topics, such as the effects drugs and alcohol have on women’s bodies, are applicable only to women, making them nearly impossible to discuss in mixed groups. A Women’s rehab center and women-specific therapy is designed to create a safe space for women to discuss the issues that disproportionately affect them.
Substance Abuse for Women
There are numerous factors that may cause a woman to begin abusing drugs and alcohol. Some issues are more influential upon women than men, including stress, an unstable home environment, and failure or lack of meaningful relationships. Women are often introduced to substance abuse by a partner who uses drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse becomes a method of connecting and communicating in relationships, which can cause women to rely on substances as a means of relating to others.
Women are often more prone to struggling with eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Many women who struggle with substance abuse have experienced trauma such as childhood sexual abuse, violence, or witnessing violence. Substance abuse can develop as a way to cope with these traumas, making it necessary to address these concerns before achieving successful sobriety. Women also tend to face greater social scrutiny. Due to societal expectations, women often feel pressure to be caregivers, nurture others, and conform to gender norms. When they think they have failed to meet these expectations, it can cause them to further recoil and isolate themselves from others.
Women are also effected by substance abuse more dramatically than men. Women tend to progress faster in the development of adverse effects due to substance abuse. Due to biological differences, women metabolize substances differently, causing drugs and alcohol to take a more dramatic toll on their health. This can lead to an increase in body image issues and lower self-esteem, further escalating the cycle of substance abuse. This also leads to an increase need for women’s rehab centers that will address the needs that are specific to women in recovery from addiction.
Women’s Rehab Centers Address Women’s Specific Needs
Although there is some overlap between men’s and women’s needs, there are specific areas that must be addressed in women’s treatment. Substance abuse tends to take a greater toll on women’s health and can be difficult to manage due to societal expectations of female behavior, family support, and other medical needs. Areas that must be addressed in a women’s rehab center include:
- Family support: Women often cite a lack or loss of close, meaningful relationships as a major influence in abusive behaviors. When coupled with the fact that women tend to have less family support in treatment and are more likely to bear the burden of childcare, getting the proper help for substance abuse can be difficult. The fear of losing custody of children can cause a woman not to enter treatment or to leave a program early.
- Self-esteem and body image: Women must focus on building their self-esteem and improving their body image in recovery. Addiction can wreak havoc on the body and cause numerous negative health consequences. Women often tend to feel pressure to equate their value to their physical appearance, which can further damage their perception of self.
- Medical issues: Although men and women may both suffer with co-occurring disorders, mental health issues occur at a higher rate in women. Women are also more prone to infectious diseases, problems with reproduction, and behavioral issues. Many of these are linked to gender-specific experiences and may be uncomfortable to discuss in mixed group settings, making female-specific therapy more critical in recovery.
- Biological differences: Addiction takes a dramatic toll on women’s health. Women experience the symptoms of addiction more rapidly than men, even if they have used substances less frequently or less intensely. This has numerous negative consequences on physical and mental health.
Women also tend to be more reluctant to enter treatment, although they are just as likely as men to stay in treatment once they have enrolled. Social stigmas, lack of support, socioeconomic factors, and children tend to play a larger role in a woman’s choice regarding treatment as compared to men. This understanding allows a women’s rehab center to address the concerns and fears of their clients in a safe and supportive environment where they are surrounded by their peers.
Importance of Female-Centric Treatment
Addiction recovery is a unique journey that requires individualized care. Women often face additional obstacles in recovery that must be addressed in order to improve success rates. Their experiences are largely unique to their gender, making the use of female-specific therapies in recovery even more critical. Women’s treatment is designed to address the needs of women in recovery while simultaneously helping to build a support network of same-sex peers. Women in recovery often have difficulty developing healthy, meaningful relationships with other women. A women’s rehab center, designed to address a woman’s specific needs help with this. Female-specific therapy creates a space in which women can build relationships with others and allows them to discuss the issues that predominately face them.
A women’s rehab center creates a space for women to develop a new understanding of themselves while learning how to engage with others in a positive way. This environment allows women to develop emotional intelligence and communication skills that can carry over into existing relationships. Therapeutic options have largely been male-dominated, making the need for female-specific therapy more vital to success. While individual therapy can address specific issues one-on-one, gender-specific therapies give women the opportunity to explore topics that universally impact them in a safe environment, surrounded by others who can readily relate.