What’s Different About Women?
Addictive disorders lead to serious health problems that tend to recur for both women and men of all ages and backgrounds. Among women, however, many of these disorders present unique challenges to their health, may progress differently, and may require different treatment approaches.
When it comes to alcohol abuse, for example, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has found that chronic alcohol abuse takes a heavier physical toll on women than on men. Among its findings: alcohol dependence and related medical problems, such as brain, heart, and liver damage, progress more rapidly in women than in men.
Drug Use Presents its Own Problems for Women
One of the first problems women encounter is that, according to recent research, they tend to become addicted more quickly than men to certain drugs, such as crack cocaine – even after casual or experimental use. This results in the need for special treatment that focuses on a number of other serious concerns, such as sexually transmitted diseases and mental health problems.
The important thing to recognize is that despite all of these special needs and challenges, significant numbers of women – women of all ages – are overcoming their addictions. Those who have been most successful in doing so have had the help and support of significant others, family members, friends, treatment providers, and the community.
The Importance of a Supportive Network
One of the keys to a woman’s healthy recovery is often the ability to develop bonds with other women dealing with a similar problem. Perhaps one of the strongest arguments for a women-only treatment facility in fact, is this ability to encourage residents to develop friendships and positive support networks.
It’s an environment where women cooperate, rather than compete. It’s an environment where women have the opportunity to bear witness to another woman’s “model” recovery has proven to be a remarkably healing event.
The primary goal of any treatment program or facility, of course, is to help people achieve stabilized recovery, end the cycle of addiction, achieve realistic family renewal, and restore a personal sense of dignity and productivity.