Addiction affects men and women, but gender-specific treatment for women can help them reach their recovery goals effectively. Women’s treatment programs offer safe spaces for women to talk openly about their experiences, seek support from others they can relate to, and address specific challenges to prevent relapse.
When women recover in gender-specific programs, they engage in group therapy with other women in recovery and receive care for female-specific challenges. While individuals may spend some time in mixed-gender groups, they complete the majority of their treatment with other women.
Addiction treatment tailored for women has the following benefits:
Women-only recovery programs address specific experiences and challenges young adult women and adult women may face during recovery. Substance use disorder often occurs with or as a result of other disorders, conditions, and traumatic experiences women are more likely to experience than men. Women in recovery often need support addressing challenges and topics such as the following:
Women are more likely to leave their treatment program before they are ready when they face childcare challenges. Women-specific recovery can appropriately support women who lack familial support systems at home.
With the right support, women can face distressing situations such as seeking childcare and addressing potential state intervention regarding their children. Assisting women with these challenges can help them remain in recovery until they are ready to return home or begin outpatient treatment.
Addressing experiences, challenges, and emotions in group or individual therapy with other women provides a safe space to discuss gender-specific topics. Women might be more open to talking about female-specific challenges one-on-one with another woman or in a group therapy setting with other women.
It can be challenging to explore sensitive topics in a co-ed group, so women-specific recovery provides a safe space for women to discuss these topics comfortably.
When women work through recovery with other women, they gain friendship and community. Gender-specific treatment programs give women opportunities to bond and build lifelong friendships. Recovering with other women experiencing similar challenges helps women foster honesty, trust, and compassion as they support one another.
Gender-specific treatment can also offer more support for women as they recover physically from substance use. Women can become addicted to a substance and experience physical side effects of substance use and withdrawal faster than men.
Women with substance use disorders can also experience health complications related to fertility, menopause, pregnancy, hormones, their menstrual cycle, and breastfeeding. Drinking also carries a higher chance of breast cancer in some women. Substance use disorder professionals with the clinical experience to address these factors are invaluable in women’s recovery. A women-specific recovery program can effectively care for women’s health as they recover.
If an individual is experiencing a substance use disorder, they may exhibit some or all of the following signs and symptoms:
Women are more likely to experience certain symptoms from different substances than men. For example, women are more vulnerable to cardiovascular effects when they use cocaine than men are, but they are less likely than men to experience cocaine’s detrimental effects on the brain.
When women use methamphetamine, they tend to become addicted faster than men and develop a stronger dependency on methamphetamine use. However, women are typically more receptive to methamphetamine treatment than men.
After using MDMA, women usually experience stronger hallucinatory effects than men, and they are more likely to feel depressed days after using it. Women are also more likely to experience brain swelling from drinking too many fluids while under the influence of MDMA.
Women have a higher overdose death risk than men when using injectable heroin. This increased risk may be due to using prescription drugs at the same time as injecting heroin. Women are also more at risk of experiencing the long-term effects of alcohol use.
In some cases, women may experience more drug cravings in treatment and recovery, and they have a higher risk of relapse following treatment.
Various experiences and mental health conditions can cause addiction in women. Individuals often use drugs to cope with emotional distress, meet social expectations, or temporarily perform better at school or work. Women often report using substances for unique reasons, such as the following:
Occurrences such as divorce, domestic abuse, loss of child custody, or the death of a loved one can also trigger substance use. While each individual has a different reason for trying a substance, addiction develops in the brain similarly for every person. When someone uses a substance, it activates the brain’s pleasure and reward center. Over time, the substance changes the brain and makes the individual feel as if they need the substance to feel good and survive.
Addiction can affect a woman’s life in the short and long term.
Substance use disorder can weaken the immune system, which increases a woman’s risk of developing infections or illnesses. Substance use can also cause the following short-term health conditions and complications:
Substance use can also affect pregnancy and cause birth complications. Using substances during pregnancy can increase the following birth risks:
Recognizing when you have an addiction and exploring your treatment options is the first step toward recovery. Knowing when to seek help can seem challenging at first, but knowing which signs to look for can help. You should consider treatment options if you or a loved one experiences any of the following habits or behaviors:
Dishonesty is a sign that substance use has become a problem. If someone is addicted to a substance, they may deny their actions or create excuses for why they are using the substance. They may also make great efforts to hide their substance use from loved ones.
Using substances such as drugs or alcohol to self-medicate is another sign of addiction. If you use harmful substances to cope with feelings such as anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, or frustration, addiction treatment can help. Using a prescribed medication as a doctor recommends is safe, but using any substances outside of a doctor’s recommendations is unsafe and a sign that treatment is necessary.
Substance use often causes negative consequences such as job loss, school expulsion, financial difficulties, and health complications. It’s important for an individual to seek addiction treatment if they continue using substances even when they experience negative consequences. Effective treatment can help you stop using substances when negative consequences are affecting your life.
Addiction hinders a person’s ability to function without drugs or alcohol. Someone with an addiction may find it difficult to attend social gatherings, spend time with family, get through their day, or sleep at night without using substances. If you often use substances to make it through your days or nights, addiction treatment can help you find freedom from addiction.
Losing relationships is another sign it may be time for addiction treatment. If using substances strains relationships with your family, friends, coworkers, or significant other, entering treatment can help you pursue recovery and work toward repairing lost relationships.
Various mental health disorders often occur simultaneously. Some individuals use substances to cope with or self-medicate mental health conditions, and addiction can also cause mental health disorders to develop. Approximately 9.2 million U.S. adults experience co-occurring disorders with substance use disorder. Substance use commonly occurs with the following conditions:
Treating co-occurring conditions alongside addiction treatment and recovery is helpful, as specialized treatment can help women address co-occurring disorders, increasing positive recovery outcomes. We offer several treatments that can support co-occurring needs:
Programs that offer dual diagnosis and co-occurring treatment effectively treat two or more conditions at one time. Combining mental health treatment and addiction treatment prevents relapse and helps women break free from addiction.
Addiction treatment can help you begin your path to a healthier life. If you want to learn more about addiction treatment, you can refer to the following frequently asked questions:
Both women and men can use Vivitrol or Suboxone in addiction recovery. These medications can help individuals avoid relapse by partially activating opioid receptors. When medication partially activates these receptors, it eases physical withdrawal symptoms and decreases discomfort during detox.
Gateway Foundation offers treatment for various addictions such as alcohol, process addictions, and the following drugs:
You can call Gateway Foundation and talk with our experienced staff to begin treatment. We will walk you through each step of the admissions process by asking you questions about your unique needs and answering any questions you may have. Your conversation will be entirely confidential, and you can make the process even quicker and easier by having the following items ready when you call:
Care providers will help you determine the level of care you need based on several factors. Medical professionals conduct initial assessments to learn about patients’ needs, addictions, lifestyles, health and co-occurring disorders. During your initial assessment, your care provider will talk with you and determine which level of care is most effective for you.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) provides criteria to help care providers develop the safest and most effective treatment plan for each patient. ASAM criteria allow medical professionals to accurately evaluate clinical information, initial interviews, patient goals and field knowledge to determine which treatments will benefit patients the most.
Gender-specific addiction treatment is an integrated approach that helps women reach their recovery goals. Sharing experiences in women-only groups makes it easier for individuals to talk openly about their challenges, and it allows women to bond and form lasting friendships.
Gateway Foundation offers various types of substance use treatment for women, providing them with the environment, support and community they need to recover from substance use disorder. We tailor treatment to meet each individual’s unique needs, and our experienced staff compassionately help women reach their goals.
At Gateway Foundation, we are with you for life. Contact Gateway Foundation to learn more about our women’s recovery services and how we can help you or a loved one find freedom from addiction.
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