For many years, substance abuse was only seen as a male problem. While men have higher rates of substance abuse, women still face the challenges of drug and alcohol use and ultimately addiction. There are many unique challenges and barriers that women specifically face when battling a drug addiction that need to be addressed when finding the right place for treatment.
The Stigma of Women and Addiction
The life of addiction comes with many stigmas and stereotypes that often make it hard for people to reach out and seek help. Women tend to face harsher judgment from friends, family members, and society around substance use and addiction. When women experience addiction or addictive behaviors, the quality of their parenting becomes questionable. They may be threatened with having Child Protective Services called for their kids, or having their child placed with a family member. This becomes a genuine fear of whether or not they will lose custody of their child.
All of these stigmas cause women to be more ashamed of their addiction and cause them to hide their problems out of fear. The fear then becomes that they may lose their children or family and other meaningful relationships. This causes women to become ashamed to reach out for help or want to get treatment. Stigmas can prevent women from getting the proper help they need to live a healthy, sober lifestyle. However, with the right support system, sobriety can still be achieved.
Barriers Women Face in Long-Term Recovery
There are a variety of barriers that women with substance use disorder (SUD) experience that can hinder them from getting the right help. Issues like financial strain, lack of childcare, and trauma all impact getting help. These issues also can be the trigger for substance use.
One of the most challenging parts of being a parent is that it doesn’t stop when the parent has their own issues going on. Women oftentimes have more responsibility when it comes to parenting, as they are typically the main caregiver in their child’s life. Women are often known to be the caregiver of the family, where they have to balance parenting, managing finances, and other duties. When men go to treatment or enter recovery, there is this sense that the woman of the house will be left to take care of the kids back home. For women, there is still often the expectation of the responsibility to take care of others and their children while simultaneously trying to heal themselves in recovery.
People with SUD are often diagnosed with co-occurring disorders as well. Co-occurring disorders, or comorbid disorders, are mental health disorders that occur alongside SUD. Common mental health disorders that can be seen with SUD are:
- Mood disorders
- Personality disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Women are known to struggle with co-occurring disorders at higher rates than men. Their chances of facing depression are two times more likely. Additionally, many women experience postpartum depression after childbirth. PTSD and anxiety also are very common mental disorders that women face at higher rates while battling addiction. Oftentimes, mental disorders are diagnosed after treatment for substance use because it can be harder to identify the symptoms. Finding a treatment center that has services for both addiction and specific mental health disorders is key to having the best chance at recovery.
Although men also experience their own forms of trauma, women have unique and specific traumas that they may face. Women are more likely to be survivors of complex trauma like:
- Sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
It has been shown that women are two times more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing a traumatic event. When trying to cope with these traumatic life experiences, one may find themselves running to different vices to numb the uncomfortable feelings that they develop. Unhealthy coping strategies are often formed, which is where issues with substance use can manifest. Women who have PTSD also have higher rates of alcohol and substance abuse.
Lack of access to affordable childcare is another crisis that is impacting women not only with addiction but all across the board. Most treatment centers don’t offer childcare services for women who need parental support during their recovery process, making it harder to attend inpatient or outpatient services. Having to choose between spending income on childcare or treatment can keep many women from being able to get help for their addiction.
One of the many issues that women face in today’s times is the gender pay gap. Women are typically paid at disproportionately low rates than their male counterparts. Besides the gender pay gap, there is a higher chance that women have less financial income. This makes being able to afford treatment challenging for women who have financial difficulties. Aftercare plays a critical role in maintaining long-term sobriety after inpatient treatment. Outpatient services after residential treatment can be difficult to manage financially, which can lead to issues of relapse or struggling with long-term recovery after inpatient care.
At Spero, our recovery center is dedicated to providing accessible treatment to the under- or uninsured. We believe it is a fundamental human right to access good quality care. The stigmas and barriers that come with women and addiction should not prevent them from receiving the adequate care they need, and you shouldn’t have to break the bank to get treatment. Our residential facility offers both high-quality clinical treatment and a support network through our peer-led treatment modalities. As a woman, facing the stigmas that come with addiction may feel like you don’t deserve a second chance at bettering yourself. At Spero Recovery Center we are here with open arms to help you redefine yourself and get control back over your life. Call us today at (303) 351- 7888 to learn more about how we can help you begin your recovery process.