Women & Substance Abuse
Addiction isn’t just about a physical drug and how it affects a body; addicts go through physical and psychological changes that make them need more of the drug of choice while engaging in negative behaviors that cause harm to their emotional, physical and even spiritual lives. Beyond the personal cost, addiction destroys families, leads to high crime rates and has a high monetary cost.
There have been attempts to help addicts recover, ranging from completely unsuccessful to very successful. However, no one treatment plan works for everyone, so social scientists study the disease and its treatments. It should seem obvious that women have different substance issues than men, but most of the research regarding alcoholism and addiction focused on men until the 1990s.
Physical Differences Between Men & Women in Substance Abuse
Women are different from men in general size, which means that drugs may often affect them more quickly and strongly, and in body composition. There are even genetic differences in how men and women react to alcohol and other drugs.
Women’s hormones and brain chemistry are vastly different from men’s, leading to different reactions to the same drugs. The stigma regarding women drinking alcohol is no longer so prevalent, leading more women to use alcohol to deal with emotional issues. Untreated chronic pain issues may drive some women to abuse opioids.
Gender Roles in Society & Addiction
Women are the ones who are responsible for taking care of their families, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, and then having a job outside the home. They often feel overwhelmed, and as though there is no one to ask for help. They also often feel afraid to ask for help, and worry that they will receive condemnation or punishment instead of aid.
Instead of getting the help they need, many women find that their family unit is threatened. They need to be able to step away from their roles enough to get the help they need but are frightened of the consequences.
Women are more likely to suffer from body disorder images, too. This can lead to women having eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia, where they have unhealthy habits in order to be able to present a certain look. Drugs can help women find that “perfect” body image, even if it comes at the cost of their health.
Women’s Addiction Treatment
When women are finally at a point where they are able to start working on their issues with addiction, they need a safe environment where they can share their stories without judgment. Addiction often brings its own problems, but it brings out other issues.
Women & Dual-Diagnosis Needs in Addiction Treatment
Many addicts have what is called a dual diagnosis, meaning there is another mental issue that is going on at the same time as the addiction. These issues may range from the already mentioned eating disorders to depression, to other diagnoses like bipolar disorder, anti-social personality disorder or schizophrenia.
Having a dual diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t get better, but you won’t be able to get better unless you can get help dealing with both.
In order to begin the process of recovery, women must be able to go through an evaluation where their needs are diagnosed and a plan is formed that can help them deal with their unique issues. Someone in withdrawal might need a safe place to detox, while a dual diagnosis might mean a prescription for the right medication.
Newport Beach Recovery offers comprehensive treatment services in a safe environment for women in Costa Mesa, CA. If you or a loved one needs help, or just has any questions, don’t wait to call Newport Beach Recovery at 1-855-213-3869 today. The sooner you get into recovery, the sooner you can start your life over.