Rehabilitation for Women

Women have different perspectives and needs when it comes to treatment for addictions, eating disorders, and other mental and behavioral health issues. Research shows that women are more likely than men to recognize the signs of a mental health problem and seek treatment.

The type of treatment that works best for one woman may differ from another. While some find healing in treatment with other women, others may feel most comfortable in a co-ed program. Ultimately, choosing a treatment program is an intensely personal decision based on the individual’s particular needs and preferences.

Special Treatment For Women


Throughout history, women have suffered by being excluded – excluded from achieving certain occupational levels, joining certain clubs, enjoying certain life benefits automatically enjoyed by men. All too often, in a great many environments, women have been relegated to special seating areas, special doors, special nights, special times. It’s a situation all too familiar – but one that is changing in today’s more-enlightened world.

Ironically, there are times when facilities reserved solely for women can work to their advantage. One glowing example is specialized treatment centers designed to deal specifically with the unique challenges confronted by women in recovery.

What are some of those unique challenges? For many, it’s a place to deal with recovery in a home-like environment that avoids separation from their children. It’s a facility that responds to other basic needs, such as legal assistance, occupational training, educational opportunities, medical care, and opportunities for therapy that involve all members of the family.

It should be noted that there are many treatment facilities that are ideally staffed and experienced in providing excellent co-ed Programs and treatment modalities. Single-gender facilities are not necessarily “better.” Conversely, treatment facilities dealing with men and women together don’t always provide all the types of services required by both groups. Selection of a treatment center should therefore be carefully researched, often times with professional intervention and counseling to minimize or avoid gender situations and complications.

What kind of situations are these? They can include romantic involvements and opportunities for care-taking, the kind of coping mechanisms that women traditionally use to handle the pain of addictive behavior. Facilities that treat only women may be able to minimize such potential distractions and prevent women from lapsing into familiar behavioral patterns.

Seeking support to overcome alcoholism, drug addiction, and other addictive disorders is never easy. For both men and women, that generally takes an acknowledgement of the problem and a desire to heal. Ultimately, of course, it also requires a call for help. Much has been studied about why seeking and finding that help can be much more difficult for women than for men.

If you’re a woman looking for the kind of support, if you’re a woman who needs help – or if you know one who does – be assured that you’re not alone. We’re talking about women from all walks of life, from all ethnic backgrounds, from all income groups, women suffering from a wide range of addictive disorders.

Take drug addiction, for example. One study notes that as many as 7 out of 10 women who abuse drugs have been exposed to physical and sexual abuse. There’s also a very real fear factor – the fear of how spouses or boyfriends might react. Women, more than men, fear punishment for illegal activity. And perhaps most importantly for women with children, they fear not being able to take care of children or – worse yet – losing them.

That’s only part of the challenge. Women, it seems, are far more likely than men to report a parental history of alcohol and drug abuse. Those who use drugs or find themselves caught in a web of other addictive behavior often have low self-esteem, little self-confidence, and may feel powerless. In addition, minority women may face additional cultural and language barriers that can affect or hinder their treatment and recovery.

Many of those fears diminish when there’s the help and support of family and friends – and caring professionals in a healing environment. The good news about all of this is that there is, indeed, a lot of help out there. Today, more than ever, a wide range of supportive facilities boast a cadre of sensitive, highly trained staff members who have come to understand and appreciate the special treatment needs of women battling addictions.

The following factors should also be taken into account when selecting the best treatment program for women:

  • Age of the patient
  • Medical and behavioral history
  • Presence of multiple (co-occurring) disorders
  • Length of time the patient has been dealing with the disease or disorder
  • Severity of the disease/disorder

Once these and other factors have been evaluated, the range of treatment options for women who have been struggling with a mental health problem, addiction and/or behavioral disorder is likely to take one of the following three forms:

  • Outpatient treatment
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Residential treatment

Benefits of Women-Only Treatment

Some women prefer to receive gender-specific treatment for addiction, eating disorders, and other mental and behavioral health issues. Research suggests that women tend to be more successful in women-only treatment programs. Some of the benefits of all-women treatment programs include:

  • A safe environment to open up about sensitive or deeply personal issues
  • Unique understanding of the issues and experiences that typically impact women, such  as self-esteem, body image, parenting, trauma and abuse
  • Studies suggest higher success rates in women-only treatment programs as women are more likely to complete a full stay in treatment in a single-gender program
  • A strong support network with other women who share similar struggles
  • Opportunity to focus on mental health and recovery without distraction
  • Strong female role models as therapists, counselors and staff

Whether you prefer gender-specific or mixed-gender treatment, there are a number of options available to you. Some mental health treatment programs specialize in men’s issues or women’s issues, while others provide co-ed treatment with access to gender-specific groups.

The easiest way to find help geared to a woman’s special needs is to call our toll-free Women-Only Help Line at 888.268.9247 . (If you’re a man calling on behalf of a woman who needs help, of course you can call as well.) You’ll be connected to a trained specialist who will listen to you, answer any questions you might have about a wide variety of addictive disorders, and provide relevant, real-life responses to your needs. If you like, you’ll be provided with referrals to treatment centers drug and alcohol treatment centers, trained professionals, interventionists, and other important resources.

The bottom line: Find a program that makes you feel safe and welcome, and where you believe your needs will be most closely met.

Women Only Recovery Centers and Programs