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The factors that contribute to addiction for men and women are sometimes different. Additionally, gender issues can often make recovery for women uniquely challenging. In this article, we’ll look at the prevalence of addiction among women, the specific obstacles women face in recovery, and the benefits of receiving female specific treatment.
How common is addiction among women?
Historically speaking, men have been more likely to suffer from substance use disorders than women, however women are not immune to addiction. Although only 20% of individuals in treatment are women, 32.1 million women in the U.S. have a mental or substance abuse disorder. Of those women, 39% struggle with illegal drugs and 5% struggle with both illegal drugs and alcohol. The number of women using marijuana has also increased in recent years.1
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, women are also more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed opioid painkillers by doctors (in higher doses), and take them for longer periods of time than men.2
Between the years of 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died from prescription painkiller overdoses.3 But in just half that time, from 2010 to 2015, more than 50,000 women died from a drug overdose.4 Not surprisingly, overdose rates among women are expected to continue increasing over the next several years.
As you can see, substance use disorders are a major public health problem among both women and men.
Although only 20% of individuals in treatment are women, 32.1 million women in the U.S. have a mental or substance abuse disorder.
Sex and gender differences in substance abuse
Clearly, substance abuse and addiction are conditions that don’t discriminate based on sex or gender-identity, however, there are specific biological and cultural differences that influence the development of substance use disorders among women. These factors can also play a role in a woman’s ability to get sober and sustain long-lasting recovery from addiction.
First and foremost, biological differences among males and females influence rates of addiction. Researchers have found that women metabolize alcohol and drugs differently than men do. As a result, substance use disorders tend to progress at a faster rate among women. Additionally, due to physiological differences, women in recovery are more susceptible to cravings and subsequent relapse.5
Culturally, women are viewed as the caregivers, mothers, and gatekeepers of their homes. Naturally, those that struggle with addiction are often stigmatized, making it more difficult for them to seek help, talk about their problems, or find compassionate treatment services.
Unique challenges for addicted women
Research shows addicted women are more likely than men to face multiple barriers to treatment. They’re also less likely to seek treatment than men, which may be a result of the additional challenges they face.6 According to the Recovery Research Institute, here are a few of the most common barriers women suffering from addiction face:
Some of the best women’s addiction treatment centers in Texas will tell you mothers seeking recovery from drug addiction face difficulty around parenting roles. Caring for their children is a major obstacle for recovering mothers who are looking to enter a 90-day women’s treatment program in Texas. Although challenging, using family to assist with childcare is often a logical and feasible solution.
In addition, choosing an addiction treatment center for women that offers a family program, will allow women the opportunity to visit and heal with their family. Most of the women-specific rehab programs in Texas will offer their family program monthly and family visitation weekly. This approach is identical in a long-term treatment center environment.
Many working women also seek female-specific treatment in Texas but face the obstacle of potentially losing their job. However, if you are one of those women, going to a women-specific rehab program does not mean you’ll lose your job! There are protections designed for you.
According to the US Department of Labor, FMLA leave is available for treatment for substance abuse provided the conditions described in the definition of “serious health condition” are met (see 29 CFR § 825.114(d).7 An addiction treatment professional can help you navigate FMLA. Check out our FMLA Guide for more details.
As we mentioned briefly earlier, since women in America are culturally viewed as the caretakers of the home and family, those who suffer from addiction are often stigmatized. As a result, many addicted women feel too ashamed or alone to ask for help. They suffer in silence because they feel like they’ll be judged or punished for seeking out a women’s treatment program in Texas.
Fortunately, as Americans are becoming more educated about the disease of addiction and how it affects both women and men, they are also becoming more accepting of the issue. Likewise, today there are also more addiction treatment centers for women and wellness services available for women in recovery.
According to the NIDA, more women than men have been victims of sexual, physical, or verbal abuse. In fact, the majority of women in addiction treatment have had traumatic experiences.8 Many of these women may also develop PTSD as a result of traumatic experiences, which makes them more likely to also become addicted to drugs or alcohol.9
Female-specific treatment for addiction addresses addiction with a trauma-informed approach that encourages women to process these experiences in a safe and supportive environment. Treatment professionals at a women’s addiction treatment center are trained and educated on trauma and its relationship with addiction, as well as the needs of women who have been touched by traumatic experiences. This understanding provides a female-specific treatment environment for women in recovery that enhances the healing process and ensures that clients feel safe, understood, and heard.
Women in recovery are more likely than men to suffer from co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Additionally, women who have recently had a baby may also suffer from postpartum depression while they are also dealing with a substance use disorder.
At a women-specific rehab program, treatment professionals will treat these disorders simultaneously to provide clients with well-rounded care that addresses all aspects of the substance abuse, not just the physical addiction. As a result, women in recovery are more likely to achieve lasting sobriety and receive comprehensive support.
Women in recovery are more likely than men to suffer from co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
Due to pay gaps, less income, or lower wages, women may be more likely to be in poverty before attending female-specific treatment, which is an additional barrier to getting proper care for addiction. As a result, many women in recovery also need additional aftercare services such as sober housing, transportation, childcare, income support, and transportation.
At a women’s treatment program, these issues are top of mind. Treatment professionals offer supportive aftercare programs that address issues like unemployment, education, and sober housing so women in recovery can have the best chance at sustained recovery.
Deciding to seek help from a women-specific rehab program in Texas, can be a difficult decision to make. Women seeking a drug rehab in Texas are likely to face some of the above obstacles. However, if you’re a woman who is struggling with addiction, many providers offer female-specific treatment, and can help you overcome obstacles that may prevent you from entering a substance abuse treatment facility.
Benefits of a women-specific rehab program
Going to rehab is a big decision but there are many benefits of attending a women-specific rehab program, including:
- A nurturing and understanding treatment environment
- A trauma-informed approach to treatment
- Individualized therapy to address the unique issues women in recovery face
- Multidisciplinary treatment that uses a variety of evidence-based approaches
- Treatment that addresses gender-specific relapse risks (motherhood, eating disorders, sexual assault, etc.)
Find a women’s addiction treatment center near Austin, TX
At Nova Recovery Center, we provide trauma-informed female-specific treatment to help women overcome their addictions. If you’re ready to get help for a substance abuse problem, speaking with your company’s human resource department is the first step in applying for FMLA and getting the treatment you need. You may also contact one of Nova Recovery Center’s admissions specialists, who can also assist you with applying for FMLA and admission into a women’s treatment program for addiction.
Our Austin recovery center is a safe and supportive environment for women in recovery. After rehab, we can even help you locate a sober house in Austin for women. Give us a call at (888) 427-4932 to get started today.