Rehab For Women

Recovering from substance abuse and addiction is a deeply personal journey, and for women, it often involves unique challenges. Effective rehab treatment tailored to women’s specific needs provides a safe, supportive, and empowering environment. Comprehensive programs combine evidence-based therapies and holistic approaches to address the mind, body, and spirit, guiding women from detox and therapy to aftercare and long-term recovery. A gender-responsive approach fosters a strong sense of community and support, ensuring women receive the highest quality care in a nurturing setting. Embarking on the path to recovery helps women discover the strength and hope within themselves, overcoming addiction and building a brighter future.

Group Therapy for Women

Gender differences in addiction

Addiction is experienced differently between men and women. Men’s drug use is generally riskier and more reckless – men are more likely than women to use most types of illicit drugs and have higher rates of hospital visits and overdoses. However, women may experience more intense cravings and experience higher relapse rates. While men may take certain drugs in higher quantities and in riskier ways than women, the negative health outcomes of drugs and alcohol can impact women disproportionately, and some substances can impact women in ways they don’t impact men. Patterns of drug usage also differ between men and women – for instance, women are more likely to abuse prescription opioids than men.

Women and men differ in both their reasons for taking drugs and how they respond to them. Factors such as hormones, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause impact women’s addiction and recovery specifically. Finally, cultural roles mean that women and men tend to seek help for addiction in different ways – women are more likely to seek help for their addictions in mental health or primary healthcare settings, which are less well-equipped to offer high-quality addiction treatment than specialised addiction rehab services.

Differences between how men and women experience addiction and seek help mean that a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment isn’t appropriate, and rehab for women must be tailored to meet their needs for the most effective treatment and best outcomes.

Women and addiction

Studies have highlighted differences in the ways men and women take substances and how they respond to them. They may abuse the same substances but in different ways and at different rates.

  • Cannabis: Fewer women than men use cannabis, but for the women who use it, the effects can be different. Women are more likely to experience panic attacks, and research suggests it impairs spatial awareness more in women. Studies have also suggested teenage usage of marijuana may have a bigger impact on the developing brains of teenage girls.
  • Stimulants: Women start taking methamphetamine and cocaine at younger ages than men and become dependent more quickly. Body image issues disproportionately affect women, and this can be seen in patterns of stimulant usage for weight loss.
  • Heroin: Women’s use of heroin is generally more cautious than men’s – they use smaller amounts and are less likely to inject. However, they are at increased risk of overdose compared to men in the early years of their addiction.
  • Prescription opioids: Women are prescribed opioids more than men and misuse them more frequently to self-medicate for anxiety. Overdose deaths from prescription opioids have increased more rapidly in women than in men.
  • Alcohol: While more men misuse alcohol, long-term health problems caused by alcohol are more severe in women. Alcoholism damages women’s health more quickly. All-cause mortality from alcohol is 50-100% higher in women than men – that includes suicide and accidents as well as common alcohol-related illnesses like heart disease, strokes, and
  • Liver disease: Some health risks from alcoholism are unique to women, such as an increased risk of breast cancer. Heavy drinking is also associated with a higher risk of being the victim of violence and sexual assault.

What are the risk factors for addiction in women?

Several risk factors for addiction are particularly pertinent to women or disproportionately affect them.

  • Caregiving responsibilities and societal expectations: Women often shoulder significant caregiving responsibilities, which, combined with societal expectations, can elevate stress levels and lead to self-medication and addiction.
  • Higher prevalence of PTSD: Women are approximately twice as likely as men to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition significantly linked to addiction.
  • Concealment of addiction due to societal norms: Societal expectations may compel women to hide their addiction, prolonging acknowledgement and delaying treatment.
  • Delayed treatment-seeking: Delayed acknowledgement of addiction can exacerbate its progression, making a recovery more challenging when treatment is finally sought.
  • Underutilisation of gender-specific treatment facilities: Societal pressures may deter women from seeking treatment at facilities equipped to address their unique needs, hindering their recovery journey.

Woman with PTSD

What are the barriers to rehab treatment that women might experience?

Women seeking rehabilitation treatment may face various barriers, including:

  • Stigma and shame: Women may feel stigmatised or ashamed about their substance abuse issues, especially due to societal expectations around gender roles and behaviour.
  • Childcare responsibilities: Many women have caregiving responsibilities for children or other family members, making attending treatment sessions challenging.
  • Financial constraints: Financial barriers, such as lack of insurance coverage or inability to afford treatment fees, can prevent women from accessing rehabilitation services.
  • Lack of gender-specific programmes: Traditional rehabilitation programs may not adequately address the unique needs and experiences of women, including issues related to trauma, domestic violence, or body image.
  • Fear of losing custody: Women who are mothers may fear losing custody of their children if they seek treatment, especially if they have encountered child welfare or legal systems in the past.
  • Limited access to transportation: Women in rural areas or without access to reliable transportation may find it difficult to travel to treatment centres, particularly if they are far away.
  • Fear of judgement or discrimination: Women may fear being judged or discriminated against by healthcare providers or others in the community if they disclose their substance abuse issues.
  • Lack of support networks: Women who lack supportive relationships or social networks may feel isolated and less likely to seek help for their substance abuse problems.
  • Mental health issues: Co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, can complicate treatment and may serve as additional barriers to seeking help.
  • Cultural and linguistic barriers: Women from minority or immigrant communities may face language barriers or cultural stigma surrounding addiction, which can impede their access to appropriate rehabilitation services.

Addressing these barriers requires comprehensive approaches that consider the unique needs and circumstances of women seeking rehabilitation treatment. This can include offering gender-specific programs, providing childcare support, ensuring affordability and accessibility of services, and promoting non-judgmental and culturally sensitive approaches to care.

Why is woman-inclusive rehab important?

Women-inclusive rehab recognises the barriers to receiving addiction treatment that are unique to women and seeks to reduce or remove them. It recognises that they may have struggled with stigma in different ways than men – especially if they’re also a mother or caregiver.

Women struggling with addiction are also more likely to have a lower economic status than men in rehab, meaning financial barriers may be in place that are less likely to affect men, such as transport costs and paying for childcare. Woman-inclusive rehab must take these factors into account to maximise effectiveness.

Rehab treatment for women

Screening and treatment approaches should be gender-specific to acknowledge the specific barriers women experience and ensure their needs are met. Due to women’s elevated risk of PTSD, trauma-informed care is essential.

The caregiving responsibilities that women may have must be taken into account when tailoring treatment. Women may benefit from inpatient rehab treatment, but for some, this may simply not be an option due to responsibilities and lack of childcare. Some rehab facilities that allow children to stay with their mothers while they receive treatment do exist, but they are rare. Childcare facilities on-site or more flexible treatment options such as day-care outpatient services that still integrate detox and therapy can improve accessibility for women.

Key therapies in rehab treatment for women

In rehab treatment for women, several key therapies can be particularly effective in addressing their unique needs and circumstances. Some of these therapies include:

  • Trauma-informed therapy: Many women who struggle with substance abuse have experienced trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse. Trauma-informed therapy focuses on creating a safe and supportive environment for individuals to process and heal from their traumatic experiences, which can be essential for women in rehab.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to substance abuse. It can be especially beneficial for women by addressing issues such as low self-esteem, negative body image, and relationship difficulties.
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): DBT combines cognitive-behavioural techniques with mindfulness practices to help individuals regulate their emotions, tolerate distress, and improve interpersonal skills. It can be valuable for women who struggle with mood swings, impulsivity, and unstable relationships.
  • Family therapy: Women often have complex family dynamics that contribute to their substance abuse issues. Family therapy involves working with family members to improve communication, set boundaries, and address underlying issues that may be contributing to the woman’s addiction.
  • Group therapy: Group therapy allows women to connect with peers facing similar challenges. It can help reduce feelings of isolation, provide social support, and foster a sense of belonging and community.
  • Expressive therapies: Creative and expressive therapies such as art therapy, music therapy, and dance/movement therapy can be effective ways for women to explore and express their emotions in a non-verbal manner. These therapies can be particularly beneficial for women who have difficulty verbalising their feelings or who have experienced trauma.
  • Mindfulness-based therapies: Mindfulness-based therapies, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP), teach women skills to increase self-awareness, manage cravings, and cope with stress healthier.
  • Gender-specific therapy: Gender-specific therapy acknowledges the unique experiences and challenges that women face in addiction and recovery. It creates a safe space for women to discuss issues such as gender roles, relationships, body image, and motherhood without fear of judgement or stigma.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): MAT may be appropriate for women with opioid or alcohol dependence. It involves using medications in combination with counselling and behavioural therapies to treat substance use disorders effectively.

By incorporating these key therapies into rehab treatment programmes for women, providers can offer comprehensive and tailored interventions that address the specific needs and experiences of women struggling with addiction.

Yoga Therapy

Getting the right help

If you or someone you know is seeking a rehab centre that respects and accommodates women struggling with addiction, we’re here to support you. Contact us today to find the right rehab centre for you.

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