For addicts craving sobriety, the road to recovery can be tumultuous. This sentiment rings especially true for women. How, then, should substance abuse by women be handled?
Substance Abuse In Women
It is widely accepted that men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than women. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s 2006 survey, 7.1% of women exhibit criteria consistent with lifetime drug use disorder. Based on the 40,000 people surveyed, that breaks down to 1 in 28 women.
The Comfort Drugs Provide
Substance abuse, by all genders, often stems from an attempt to the numb unresolved emotional issues. Among women, poor mental health, stress and PTSD play a large role in addiction. Unaddressed trauma associated with childhood also contributes to drug misuse in women. Drugs offer repression and reprieve from the psychological effects of abuse, neglect and regret. Substance-dulled senses can make women susceptible to violence as adults, further perpetuating the cycle of trauma and substance abuse.
Problems Women Face With Substance Abuse
Women are more likely to take prescribed psychoactive drugs than men. Many psychoactive drugs like Valium and Oxycontin have a high potential for addiction. Women are more likely to become addicted to the substances more readily available to them. Additionally, the influx of hormones released during menstruation can cause women to become more responsive to drugs and intensify cravings.
Women are less likely to leave their responsibilities behind for the sake of treatment than men. Traditional gender roles have prompted some to seek help in less time-consuming mental health or primary care settings. These women often experience subpar outcomes as a result.
Though women are less likely to enter recovery programs, they can benefit greatly from entering drug and alcohol rehab to treat their substance addiction. Women are more likely to abstain from drug use, have shorter relapse episodes, and seek help sooner after a decline than men.
The Perks of Gender-Specific Treatment
Gender-specific treatment can prevent women who suffer from addiction from seeking subpar treatment. Many women take comfort in addressing triggers in the company of other women. Others find it easier to focus on recovery in a male-free environment. Also, gender-specific treatment programs offer child-care provisions, which can alleviate the guilt associated with recovery.
Overcoming addiction is a humbling experience. By adjusting our mindset and making small provisions for those in need, we can save lives and treat substance abuse by women.