Women seeking addiction treatment should consider multiple factors.
A woman’s biological, psychological, and social needs differ from a man’s requirements and so do her addiction patterns. A treatment program for women proactively addresses these unique needs to set the foundation for a strong, successful recovery.
Women Experience Addiction Differently
Women tend, on average, to become substance abusers at a later age than their male counterparts. For example, 19.5 million women ages 18 and older have used drugs in the past year. However, with some drugs, such as cocaine, women start earlier. Studies show that women abuse cocaine and amphetamines at a younger age, perhaps to lose weight.
Women tend to abuse prescription drugs more than men do, and that may be a factor of women’s health needs and opioid prescription patterns. Fibromyalgia affects women disproportionately more than men, and women often receive prescription painkillers or sleep aids to help them deal with the symptoms of the condition. These drugs have a high potential for abuse if they are not taken exactly as prescribed.
Men, on the other hand, tend to experiment more in their youth with multiple illicit substances. These include street drugs, club drugs, and hallucinogens. MDMA (Molly, Ecstasy) produces stronger effects in women than men, and women tend to feel depressed days after using MDMA.
Women Often Have a Dual Diagnosis
Addiction frequently occurs along with other mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women. Both men and women seeking addiction treatment may receive a dual diagnosis of substance abuse disorder along with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders.
More women than men, however, have PTSD as a result of sexual trauma. A women’s treatment facility must be prepared to address victims of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic abuse, and the co-occurring PTSD.
Women Need Different Treatment Options
These findings indicate a different program may be in order for women, but surprisingly, until the 1990s, little or no research was conducted on women and addiction. Older drug programs focused solely on men’s needs for recovery, assuming (incorrectly) that women needed the same thing.
Pregnancy, child care, and a lack of financial independence may also impact a woman’s treatment options. All three factors often hinder women from access to much-needed addiction treatment programs.
What to Look for in a Treatment Program
Many women seek treatment from their primary care physicians or mental health professionals. While both are good choices to go to for help, neither offers the comprehensive support that women seeking addiction treatment need for a complete recovery.
New treatment centers offer a variety of flexible options for treatment. These may include inpatient programs with 30, 60, or 90 day stays that offer comprehensive care and treatment. Others offer intensive outpatient programs in which women check in daily for education, treatment, and support, then return home each evening. These may be ideal for women with childcare needs who prefer to remain at home and active in their communities during treatment.
If you’re looking for treatment options, there are several things to consider when reviewing programs and facilities.
- Hospitalization or medically-monitored detox: These programs offer medically supervised detoxification in a hospital or in-patient setting with a physician and nurses in attendance.
- Medication-assisted detox: Medication-assisted detox utilizes medications such as suboxone to help wean people from chemical dependency.
- Inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment: Depending on what the facility offers, you may be able to stay at home and attend daily recovery meetings or check into an inpatient treatment program that provides comprehensive care.
- Insurance: Check the insurance accepted at the facility. The facility’s business office will review your policy with you and discuss what is covered and what may not be covered, your financial commitment, and any other financial needs or requirements.
- Staff credentials and licenses: Credentials and licenses ensure that the staff at a treatment center meets national standards of care. Some credentials of note include LADC (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor), LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor), and CCDP (Certified Co-occurring Disorders Counselor). Physicians may have the credentials of M.D. or D.O., and people licensed to provide therapeutic counseling may bear Ph.D. or LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) credentials.
- Success rates: Review the program’s published literature to understand their success rate and rate of readmission.
- Mental health counseling: For women who receive a dual diagnosis, mental health counseling, medication, and treatment may be important. Treatment for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health problems may be offered within the context of a recovery center or available nearby.
- Family involvement: Addiction rarely occurs in isolation. It is often a product of individual, family, and social factors. Family counseling and involvement can be an essential part of a woman’s program of recovery.
- Other amenities: Other amenities that may lead to successful recovery include nutritional programs, exercise programs, and programs for body, mind, and spirit. Some recovery centers offer yoga, meditation, experiential activities such as horseback riding, and more. Each treatment program takes a different approach to recovery and some emphasize supplemental activities more than others do.
If you’re a woman struggling with addiction, Bel Aire Recovery Center can work with you to develop a treatment plan designed to fit your unique needs. Our experienced and compassionate staff offer a full continuum of care designed to build the foundation for a lasting recovery.