Women are not responsive to treatment for addiction in the same way men are for various reasons. Men and women do not experience addiction the same way due to how their bodies respond to chemicals in the body and brain.
There are other differences in how the brains and bodies of women can benefit from special treatment in a gender-responsive environment. This means catering to their specific, individual needs while understanding women need different things in treatment.
Find out why women respond differently when they are treated with other women and how to help a beloved mother, daughter or other female loved one get the support she deserves.
What is Gender-Responsive Treatment
The idea of giving women a safe space to receive treatment is only one reason there are women’s only treatment centers. Gender differences cross into the core principles of how substance abuse starts for women and why it continues.
There are unique health concerns and issues women need support for that don’t impact men the same way. Women are uniquely caregivers in roles like mothers and family support systems that help keep the family together.
Men and women both share more of the financial burdens to produce income in ways that were not present in the past. Although it varies by family, women are generally recognized as the ones who take care of the children, organize events for school and take them to doctor’s appointments, among other things.
The role of socioeconomic issues that impact women is one area that treatment programs can address their needs in a gender-responsive way.
Why Women Use Substances
Everyone enters the world of substance use differently. While some women experience a history of it in their families, yet others suffer from trauma, neglect, or abuse that sends them spiraling at some point down the pathway of addiction.
Mental health issues, physical pain, and stress are also mitigating factors. The reasons women use substances are varied, but they are more commonly using substances than in the past.
Women are deeply impacted by mothering children, both physiologically and psychologically. Sometimes they suffer from physical challenges after childbirth which impacts their mental health.
Child-rearing is a difficult task, much less parenting with another person and coordinating all the ins and outs of having a child. Women are emotional beings who see the world differently than men and might respond to stressors in the environment in unique ways.
Women are at higher risk of contracting STDs or other diseases from men who share needles than vice versa. Unprotected sex can leave women at risk for many issues, including pregnancy that may result in carrying a baby addicted to drugs if they are still using it through pregnancy.
Trauma, stress, and past histories all play a role in how a woman begins to use substances, but there are various ways to support a woman to seek help for addiction.
Women’s treatment screenings and assessments can provide more accurate diagnoses for females with substance use disorder. Because they exhibit different mental health traits, it also can catch dual diagnosis needs earlier than general screening.
Women’s specific treatment programs can focus on specific eating disorders, high-risk issues, and general mental health concerns like anxiety that impact females with a focus on their unique way of healing. Assessment includes looking at a woman’s life in order to see what her past issues have been and address what her current needs are for treatment.
A general treatment program may not screen in a gender-responsive way to women’s needs and miss opportunities to provide direct support services. Women often respond better to sharing their thoughts and feelings with others, while men may struggle more with this.
In this sense, it is better to provide gender-responsive treatment programs with groups that help women feel safe to share in the company of other women, rather than in mixed company. There may also be past trauma and abuse by men that leave them feeling more vulnerable in that space. To provide safe space to heal in treatment is key to ensuring lasting recovery.
Women can face some barriers to treatment. This might include leaving behind minor children, discussing past trauma that is triggering, and feeling limited if they are a single mother to getting help while finding support for the kids.
They may fear the stigma around treatment that results in loss of child custody and need help for various obstacles around the dual diagnosis and mental health support for their specific gender and cultural needs.
Treatment services must provide for services that address all these issues, but also focus on their well-being in treatment. If they are not healthy, their family will not be healthy.
Continuity of Care
Once a woman transitions out of treatment into aftercare programs, there are issues that need to be addressed. If they are the sole provider for their family, they may need additional help figuring out finances and work after the treatment.
They may need to focus on dealing with past legal issues, barriers to affordable childcare and healthcare that gives them access to necessary treatment along with social services. Relapse rates are about the same for men and women, but community support plays a huge role for women.
If they have lots of support on the ground when they leave treatment, they are much better off than if they are alone to deal with children, work, and other issues post-treatment..
Casa Capri helps women find hope and healing with other women. Our female-only staff helps other women feel more comfortable sharing their life stories about how they came to use substances and why they quit. We help women discover their unique ability to heal from trauma and rise above. Let us help you in recovery. Call Casa Capri today: 844-593-8020
Melissa Holmes Goodmon is the founder and CEO of Casa Capri Recovery, a leading California addiction treatment center created just for women—by women. Melissa is a licensed clinician and has stayed on the cutting edge of women’s treatment since 2006. Because of her own beautiful recovery story, she is proud to be among a small group of trailblazers since founding Casa Capri Recovery for Women in 2011, leading the way for other women to join them in this otherwise male-dominated industry. She is considered an advocate for the recovery community in the truest sense, standing up to discrimination and legally fighting for the rights of sober people in recovery to live in peace. To learn more about advocacy or if you’ve experienced discrimination, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out casacaprirecovery.com for more information on our program, or please give us a call at 844-207-4880.