Women and men experience differences in how they navigate recovery. While men are less apt to look for community support, women often struggle to find the right group to fit in with because they may have childcare issues, have mental health issues to deal with, or struggle with shame. Once a woman overcomes barriers to treatment, she can still fight for sobriety and push past the obstacles. There are many obstacles that pose a relapse risk but dealt with appropriately, women can face them with dignity.
Unaddressed mental health issues are a big concern for women in recovery. Without proper diagnosis, women can linger with health issues and complications of mental health concerns for too long. ADHD, antisocial personality disorder, anxiety, and depression are among just a few of the mental health challenges facing women. They are more likely to self-medicate or relapse if these issues are not given due credit. Dual diagnosis in an appropriate care setting is important for women in recovery to thrive. Women tend to internalize their feelings more than men and may struggle with expressing how they see the world around them. Their depression, anxiety, and other challenges may be hidden because of caretaking responsibilities for others, as well. It is important to make sure women get proper diagnosis and support so they can heal.
Unfortunately, addiction still carries with it the stigma it has had for decades. Women face undue amounts of stigma because they are seen as more ‘capable of handling’ the challenges of multitasking, caring for young children, parents, and partners all at the same time. Self-care often goes out the window and women may turn towards substances to cope. Women with addiction may face social stigma as mothers, which makes it harder to seek treatment. Without being able to get help, women linger with addictive behaviors much longer and find it harder to get help quitting drugs or alcohol as a result. Undiagnosed mental health issues may also go unaddressed, leaving the woman vulnerable.
Women fight uphill battles when it comes to coping with their recovery. Research shows women are likely to engage in interpersonal conflict more than men. Addiction treatment does not provide training on how to cope with depression, anger, and conflict resolution. When it comes to those skills, women need additional support. They may struggle to sustain sobriety after rehab is over. Finding positive coping skills helps women work through the issues they face and find hope in recovery.
Of all the issues women face, they reconcile most with body image concerns. Some women may abuse drugs to lose weight, some may have body dysmorphic disorder or anorexia. Body image is important for women in recovery. To gain a sense of confidence and self-assuredness, they need to deal with the ramifications of their issues. If a co-occurring eating disorder is present with addiction, there is likely going to be issued for the woman to deal with in treatment beyond self-image. It means making sure she gets enough nutrition and heals before they get to root causes. Long term treatment is usually best for these issues many women face.
Sometimes women just give up trying to get help because it is too hard. Perhaps they have small children at home, they care for other family members, or need extra attention paid to other things. While enrolled in a transitional housing program, many women experience stressful situations and are unable to get what they need. Not caring means a woman has given up caring about her recovery. Boredom is also dangerous, but not ask risky as giving up on recovery.
Recovery milestones can be a trigger for women more than men. They emotionally attach significance to certain dates. In some cases, people feel they have achieved a certain amount of time in sobriety and can control their usage. A lapse into drug use or alcohol use can cause a full relapse. Milestones are great in recovery for celebrating sobriety but it can be tough to cope with as well.
When women go in for treatment, they need support. Women are desiring of connection. Relationships play a key role in addiction recovery. Healthy relationships are important and provide the support they need to thrive. They improve self-esteem and help women develop their identities. Getting treatment for mental health is important so they can feel supported. Family involvement is also helpful. If spouses, partners, family, and loved ones come alongside them, they often do better than if they are left alone in treatment to deal with the issues on their own. Relationships with partners are not going to be helpful if they are toxic. It is hard to deal with someone whom they are married to or connected through children. If partners are supportive and seek treatment or help with them, this can often be a best-case scenario. Otherwise, there is more risk of relapse for the woman in treatment when she goes home. Seeking the right treatment program can be a good first step in a long journey, but the first step is the most important.
Casa Capri is designed for women who are struggling with addiction to find hope and a purpose. We provide a holistic treatment model that helps women be vulnerable in a small, intimate community with other women looking to heal. Trauma-informed therapists work with women to help them navigate recovery. Family support is available, as well. Women need a space to heal and we provide that space. Call us to get started: 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.