Women in addiction have a vulnerability that they do not share with men. For that reason, it is important that the unique needs of women are addressed when it comes to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Women-specific treatment allows women to completely open up in front of their peers and expose their vulnerability rather than keeping it hidden, which often can lead to a lot of pain, pent-up emotions, and contribute to their addiction.
Women in Addiction Have Different Issues than Men
As much as we are all for equality, the truth is that men and women will always be different. When it comes to addiction, women face many things that men do not. Overall, there is a worse stigma attached to women who are addicts. It takes away from society’s view of women being caretakers and the ones that hold families together. When a woman falls victim to addiction, they are often targets of scorn, looked down upon, and ridiculed for being a “mess”. For this reason, women in addiction are hesitant to speak up and ask for help, which can further escalate the situation.
This is especially true for women who are expected to be keeping households together. A woman who is a wife or mother is held to certain standards. If addiction gets in the way, they are expected to fix it and keep moving forward for the sake of their family. This results in many women keeping addiction to themselves, whether it is drugs, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, or anything else. They are scared of getting judged by their peers and even other family members so they keep their addiction a secret until something happens to expose it, which usually is a very unpleasant event.
Women in Addiction Have Lots of Risks
On another note, there are many risks women in addiction face. It is a sad fact that when drugs and alcohol are abused, women are more likely to become victims of rape or physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Also, many women who are in active addiction sell sex in exchange for drugs, which puts them at risk for unwanted pregnancy and diseases. It is often extremely difficult for people to talk about these kinds of situations, but it is much easier to do so in an environment that is exclusively for women.
Exposing these kinds of circumstances is an extremely painful process but it is also essential to healing and recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. Traumatic situations must be brought to light in order to process them and learn how to deal with them constructively. Otherwise, they will continue to simmer under the surface and eventually explode – usually in the form of a relapse.
Exposing the vulnerable side of women in addiction and the difficult issues they face is a painful process but it is one that is essential for healing. In women-specific treatment, we work with women in a group and individual basis to bring specific issues to light. Most of the time, past issues that caused pain were dealt with by getting high or drunk. There are ways to cope without turning to drugs or alcohol, it is just important to practice them and know what they are. Also, it is essential to know what works for you, individually, and to have the support to put healthy practices into place.
It is important for women in addiction to realize they are not alone. With the right treatment and recovery program, they can overcome the past, become less vulnerable, and go on to live a successful, sober, and happy life!