When someone develops a substance use disorder, which is the clinical term for an addiction, they often require treatment to help them stop using and develop the skills for coping with stress and maintaining sobriety. While there are some general principles that apply to addiction treatment, such as remaining in treatment for at least three months and choosing a program that addresses co-occurring mental health issues, there are some factors that pertain uniquely to women.
Considerations for Women Seeking Addiction Treatment
While each person’s treatment needs will vary based upon their specific situation and preferences, the following considerations can be relevant for women who are seeking addiction treatment.
Women’s Only Groups
Group therapy and support groups are often incorporated into addiction treatment, because they help people to develop social skills, establish a source of social connection, and address issues like isolation that can occur with addiction. Groups can also provide people with an opportunity to connect with and learn from others facing similar struggles.
Some addiction treatment groups are co-ed, but others are gender-specific. For instance, some treatment centers may offer groups just for women, while others offer men’s only programs. Some research suggests that women may benefit more from female-only as opposed to mixed gender groups. While more research needs to be conducted to determine the specific benefits of female-only groups, researchers have found that women may prefer same-sex groups, because they feel more comfortable discussing issues like violence and relationship problems, and they feel they are better able to focus on themselves when men are not included in group.
Choosing a female-specific group generally is not enough in and of itself to ensure that group will be effective. A quality women’s group must also include women-specific treatment, by addressing topics like parenting, navigating gender roles, and coping with stigma. That being said, women who are seeking addiction services might consider a program that offers gender-specific support groups.
The Role of Partners
Supportive partners, such as spouses and significant others, can play an important role in helping women to recover from addiction. Including partners in addiction treatment and family counseling can be helpful and promote abstinence. On the other hand, partners who are not-so-supportive can get in the way of recovery. For example, if a women meets a significant other in treatment, and the significant other drops out of treatment, the woman is also more likely to stop treatment.
What this means is that it’s beneficial to select a treatment program that allows the spouse or significant other to participate in treatment. If a woman’s partner also has an addiction, it is critical that they remain in treatment as well. Women tend to place a high importance on their relationships, and having a partner who is still actively using sets women up for relapse.
Issues Pertaining to Pregnancy and Parenting
While men and women can share childcare duties equally, gender expectations may dictate that women are seen as more responsible for the safety and welfare of children. Women who are in addiction treatment may be involved with the child welfare system, meaning they are mandated to attend treatment in order to maintain custody of their children. In some instances, women may be required to follow a case plan, which includes addiction treatment, to have children returned to their care.
When selecting a treatment program, it is critical for women with children to consider whether the program will allow them to fulfill childcare duties, or the requirements of agencies like Child Protective Services. When considering inpatient programs, women may be able to find a treatment program that allows them to bring children with them.
Women may also have to consider issues arising during pregnancy. Drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy obviously presents risks to the developing baby, so it’s essential for women to seek treatment as soon as possible during pregnancy. Choosing a treatment provider that is sensitive to the needs of pregnant women can ensure the best outcome.
Barriers to Addiction Treatment
Both men and women may face challenges when accessing addiction treatment, but women may experience unique barriers. One such barrier is stigma; women who abuse drugs may be viewed more negatively than men, as women are often seen as being caretakers or mothers. Admitting to having a drug or alcohol problem contradicts the gender norms associated with being a mother, wife, or caretaker, which can make women feel ashamed when reaching out for treatment. This makes it especially important for women to be connected with caring, supportive treatment providers who are sensitive to the challenges that women with addictions face.
In addition, since women may take on the majority of childcare duties within their homes, finding time to seek treatment, especially on an inpatient basis, can be a barrier. Women may also have a harder time paying for treatment when compared to men, given that they tend to have lower incomes than men. Women therefore benefit from programs that link them to resources, such as financial assistance, childcare, and job training programs that can help them to address issues that occur alongside addiction.
Women may have unique needs for addiction treatment
Women with addictions may have unique needs when seeking treatment. Quality treatment programs can help women to overcome barriers to seeking treatment and provide resources and support to help women achieve their treatment goals.
If you’re seeking treatment that is sensitive to the needs of women, irecoveryusa.com may be a good fit. Our kind, supportive staff can help you to develop the tools needed to achieve sobriety. Since our services are available in a 100% remote format via our telehealth platform, you can receive the treatment you need from the comfort of home. This eliminates the need to seek childcare to attend treatment, reduces transportation costs, and provides you with privacy as you begin your journey toward sobriety.