Women and Addiction
Women and Addiction: Closing the Gap
While we know that addiction does not discriminate, and that both men and women are equally affected, gender differences can greatly impact the pathway to treatment. Women face unique circumstances when battling addiction. They may be more susceptible to certain types of addiction, progress into addiction faster and socially suffer greater stigma, which can be a barrier to seeking treatment. Understanding and recognizing these gender differences is a key component in the recovery process.
Up until recently, research had shown that men were more likely to suffer from addiction than women. This was due in part to cultural, biological and social factors that affected men more than women. However, new studies now show that the gender gap is rapidly closing. Historically, it was not uncommon for women to be misdiagnosed with a mental health disorder or other medical issue, and for their addiction to be completely overlooked.
Today, healthcare professionals are able to readily identify addiction in women. On average, an estimated 4.5 million women suffer from substance abuse, 3.5 million misuse prescription drugs and 3.1 use illicit drugs. These startling statistics claim more than 200,000 lives each year.
Why addiction affects women differently than men
Physiologically, women progress much more rapidly into addiction than men. A woman’s body does not break down alcohol and drugs as effectively as their counterparts, causing higher concentrations of substances to enter the bloodstream, which have a greater impact on the brain and other organs. As a result, women develop a dependency very quickly.
Women also face socioeconomic barriers to receiving treatment. In many cases, women who suffer with addiction are often the primary caretaker, may receive lower wages, be a victim of domestic violence or trauma-related issues or could very well be fighting child custody issues. Her decision to seek treatment may be overshadowed by how she will be perceived by those most important to her. Shame, guilt, denial and fear may be too overwhelming to bear.
Although all women are susceptible to these feelings, mothers and pregnant women are most at risk. Covering up and disguising their addiction is very common for fear of being publicly shamed. It’s no secret that moms are judged for EVERYTHING these days. From breastfeeding, to how they choose to discipline, to the amount of screen time their child gets—in today’s world, addiction is the last thing a mother will feel comfortable admitting.
Breaking down the barriers
Breaking down these barriers and the social stigma surrounding women and addiction is vital to recovery. At Malibu Beach Recovery Centers, we understand the unique and sensitive needs of women facing their addiction. Our gender-specific addiction treatment program is tailored to address these unique needs by creating a safe and nurturing space for recovery. Our addiction experts and counselors understand the struggles of being a woman with a substance use disorder. They understand how you got to where you are and what it takes to get sober. Every woman is treated with love and respect so she can feel accepted and transform her life. Malibu Beach Recovery Centers provides the necessary resources to help each woman achieve her full potential and get her feet back on the ground.
Our gender-specific track offers an integrated approach to recovery that targets all pathways that affect the mind, body and spirit. Based on our deep understanding of women’s needs, we’ve made improvements to our treatment therapies.