Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Women

Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Women

Although drug and alcohol abuse impacts both men and women, there are some distinct differences between the genders regarding addiction. For this reason, drug and alcohol treatment for women should look a bit different versus for men. Let’s explore the unique ways that substance abuse affects women.

How Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Affect Women

While the impact of substance abuse is significant for both genders, the effect it has on women is different from men. Consider these distinctions:

  • While more men have substance addictions, women become addicted faster than men. This is called telescoping, where women have a shorter time span between initial substance use and dependence.
  • Women have higher fat content and lower over-all body weight, and produce less of the enzyme dehydrogenase that helps break down alcohol. These cause women to achieve a higher blood alcohol level than men.
  • The liver in a woman sustains more damage from alcohol abuse; women die of liver failure 2-3 years earlier than men.
  • Women are more likely than men to have a co-occurring mood disorder, like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, or trauma disorder. The mental health issue can lead to self-medicate with a substance.
  • Women are more likely to be prescribed painkillers and at higher doses than men, and take them for longer duration.
  • Women and men have different reasons for misusing opioids. Women tend to misuse opioids due to emotional issues, while men misuse them for behavioral issues or legal problems.
  • Alcohol is more toxic to women than opioids. Alcohol kills twice as many women than opioids do.
  • Women are more likely to take sleeping pills therefore are more likely than men to develop dependency to these drugs.
  • Women are more apt to use stimulants for the purpose of weight loss than men.
  • Women take longer than men to seek help for drug or alcohol addiction, allowing the disease to become more severe.

Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Among Women

Substance abuse and addiction among women often accompanies a coexisting mental health issue, such as trauma disorder, depression, or anxiety. For instance, women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from depression, which may be linked to hormonal issues. Unresolved trauma is also more common in women.

The presence of a mental health challenge often results in using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. The substance can help soothe the unpleasant symptoms of the mental health disorder as well as numb the emotions. Examples would be using alcohol to relieve the symptoms of depression, or to abuse benzos to relieve anxiety symptoms.

Co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders do complicate the treatment and recovery journey. For this reason, a dual diagnosis program is the appropriate rehab program, as it will treat both disorders.

Barriers to Addiction Treatment for Women

Women face particular obstacles when it comes to getting help for a drug or alcohol problem. Consider these common barriers:

  1. Women are more resistant than men to seek help because they are highly sensitive to social shame or stigma.
  2. Women feel a deep responsibility for childrearing and resist leaving their children to go to rehab.
  3. Women typically earn lower wages, so the cost of getting treatment is a major concern.
  4. Women fear that going to rehab could impact their job or career.

Women and Alcoholism

Rates of alcohol abuse among women are rising. A 2017 JAMA study compared the self-reported drinking habits of 43,000 participants from the years 2002 and 2013. The data revealed that alcohol abuse disorders among women have increased 87% since the earlier study.

Alcohol is a depressant that slows the nerve activity in the central nervous system and brain. This provides a deeply relaxing effect, as well as a mild euphoria. For a woman seeking relief from stress, trauma, social anxiety, or depression, alcohol can become a maladaptive coping method.

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Alcohol treatment for women is tailored to take into account the various concerns that are specific to a woman. Therapy addresses issues like stigma, fear, shame, relationships and parenting related to the alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol Treatment for Women

Addiction treatment programs tailored for women provide a rehab setting that is sensitive to a woman’s unique needs. For instance, a woman may feel uneasy or be unwilling to share in co-ed group therapy sessions. Also, a woman might have a history of trauma or abuse, which could be triggered within a co-ed rehab setting.

Drug and alcohol treatment for women will include four main elements:

  1. Withdrawal management. Recovery begins with a detox and withdrawal process that is closely monitored by medical professionals.
  2. Psychotherapy. Evidence-based therapies are the mainstay of addiction treatment, as therapy helps reshape behaviors. Therapy is provided in individual therapy, group therapy, and family programs.
  3. Holistic therapies. Holistic therapies address the spiritual aspects of the treatment process and allow the woman to enrich her inner life. These include meditation, trauma-informed yoga, and art and music therapies.
  4. Education. Classes include 12-step facilitation and relapse prevention planning.

Securing Sobriety After Rehab

Drug and alcohol treatment for women offers a great chance to make a fresh start in life. However, even though rehab is completed, the recovery process continues on.

To ensure long-term success it requires continued recovery efforts. The first year in recovery can be difficult while adjusting to a new sober lifestyle. In fact, during that first year many will encounter challenges that result in a relapse.

Here are some actions to take to greatly reduce the risk of relapse:

  • Try sober living if your home setting doesn’t support sobriety.
  • Join a recovery group, such as A.A. or SMART Recovery, for social support.
  • Step down to an outpatient program for therapy and support groups.
  • Develop networks of new sober friends, sober hobbies, and sober events.
  • Establish healthy routines, such as regular exercise and a nutritious diet.

Achieve recovery success by enrolling in gender specific drug and alcohol treatment for women.

Annandale Behavioral Health Addiction Treatment for Women

Annandale Behavioral Health offers a treatment program that is tailored to the needs and challenges of women in recovery. To learn more about our rehab program, reach out to us today at (855) 778-8668.