Because March is Women’s History Month around the nation, it an ideal time to reflect on women’s complex history, from the challenges they have overcome to their accomplishments along the way. During the course of history, women were largely ignored in a variety of aspects, and substance use disorder is no different.
For a long time, substance use in women was ignored by men, and female figures made their own strides to change the history of women’s health. Overall, these advancements led to improved research and understanding of substance use and women.
History of Women’s Health
Substance use disorder used to be considered exclusive to men, so openly discussing it as a woman was extremely taboo. Women were not included in studies or research for an extended period, meaning they had to eliminate the stigma of discussing their experiences with substance use disorder to be included in research with men.
However, many brave female figures have spoken out about their own experiences and normalized the connection between substance use and women. Some of the women who have contributed to the current recovery process include:
- Betty Ford: Wife to Harrison Ford, Betty Ford spoke publicly about her addiction to opioids and spread awareness through her own experiences. Her influence encouraged other women to seek treatment.
- Marty Mann: Mann was one of the first female members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the founder of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). She openly believed alcohol addiction was not a moral issue but the disease it is still considered today.
- Jamie Lee Curtis: As a current public figure, Curtis has spoken about her addiction to alcohol openly and largely attributes her current success to seeking treatment and her continued sobriety.
- Stephanie Brown: Brown has researched and written about alcohol addiction extensively. She’s spread awareness, shared her own experiences and founded the Addictions Institute.
These women have contributed to the advancement of the substance use disorder recovery process in women, which has lead to continued research about an individual’s sex and substance use disorder. Researchers are still discovering new developments to create the most effective treatment programs for women due to these figures’ bravery and open dialogue.
Connection Between Substance Use and Women
Developing a substance use disorder is extremely personal, and there are a variety of factors that contribute to it. However, sex is a common factor that affects how someone becomes addicted to specific substances.
Depending on the substance, women are affected differently and typically develop a substance use disorder faster than men. Some of the common substances that impact women include:
- Alcohol: Women tend to drink to alleviate stress, which can lead to abuse and cause a significant amount of bodily damage in a short period.
- Opioids: From 1999 to 2017, women aged 30-64 experienced a 260% increase in drug overdose deaths.
- Stimulants: The different hormone makeup in women makes them especially prone to stimulant addictions.
- Marijuana: Women may use cannabis to alleviate anxiety disorders, which are not as common in men.
Contact Gateway Foundation for Treatment Designed for Women
At Gateway Foundation, we offer rehabilitation services designed specifically for women. Because our specialized treatment plans target women, you will receive care that focuses on the specific areas that affect your substance use disorder. Our treatment is multifaceted and includes physical, psychological and mental health care.
Some of the benefits that come with our rehabilitation program for women include:
- Increased comfort: Because you are surrounded by other women, you can feel more comfortable sharing your experiences in a group setting and develop a large support network of women.
- Shared triggers: As a woman, the triggers for your substance use disorder may differ from those a man experiences. You will work with a professional to understand the triggers unique to your substance addiction as a woman.
- Gender-specific fears: Experiencing a substance use disorder as a woman comes with a different set of worries than those of men. For example, you may fear becoming pregnant or having to provide for a child on your own.
For more information about our specific treatment plans for women, contact us today and start your journey on the road to recovery.