Specialized Addiction Treatment for Women

womens rehab

Although addiction affects people of all ages and demographics, it does affect everyone differently. Therefore a treatment approach must be different as well. 

The biggest difference is between genders: men and women. Substance use disorder changes the main hormones in men and women (testosterone and estrogen, respectively) in unique ways, and their differing body compositions and sizes respond to drugs and alcohol with diverse reactions.

For this reason, women’s rehab is offered at hundreds of treatment centers throughout the U.S. We’ll explain why women’s rehab is necessary and how women react to addiction differently from men.

Why Is There A Need for Specialized Addiction Treatment for Women?

There are many reasons why women’s rehab is necessary. When it comes to gender and addiction, biological differences in men and women cause substances to affect them differently. When women use drugs and alcohol, it affects more than just their mental and physical states. It can bring about changes in their hormones and create problems with breastfeeding, pregnancy and menstrual cycles. 

Women also use drugs and alcohol differently than men do. For example, women tend to use smaller amounts of substances for less time, and women can respond to substances differently due to their body composition. Women can also be more likely to relapse after treatment, and they might have more drug cravings.

Women are also more likely than men to be victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. As a result, they’ll also have a higher chance of turning to substances for comfort and relief. 

Specialized addiction treatment for women can address the unique needs of females and how they physically and mentally respond to a substance use disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction/Abuse in Women

A woman’s body will respond to addiction in many ways. Even though men and women can have similar symptoms of a substance use disorder, women will have some more specific changes due to the nature of their bodies. They tend to be more sensitive to pain and get depressed easier.

Physical Symptoms of Substance Use in Women

Physical symptoms will be the most obvious indicators of substance use in your female family member or loved one. These include:

  • Drastic weight changes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Infections and bruising
  • Chronic pain
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive tiredness
  • Marks on the skin
  • Seizures

Psychological Signs of Substance Use in Women

When girls become teenagers, it’s common for them to be moody and withdrawn. However, drastic changes in their thought patterns and emotions are patterns to watch out for, and drugs could be responsible. 

  • Drug cravings
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Symptoms of depression, anxiety, or paranoia that come on suddenly
  • Hostility, aggression or irritability
  • Short-term memory loss

Behavioral Symptoms of Substance Use in Women

Even if your female loved one doesn’t look like she’s misusing drugs and alcohol, she might be acting out of the ordinary. Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to interest them
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor hygiene
  • Borrowing money consistently
  • Relationship issues

Women and Addiction

Women are more likely than men to fatally overdose or go to the emergency room due to substance abuse, even though men have a higher chance of developing a chemical dependency. 11.5% of men over age 12 have a substance use disorder, compared with 6.4% of women over 12.

The main differences between men and women in addiction come down to three factors: recovery, susceptibility and risk of relapse. Women are more likely to self-medicate with illegal substances, and they’re also more likely to quickly transition from misusing substances to developing a chemical dependency. 

Women are more likely than men to suffer from substance use disorder side effects, such as liver damage. They also have a higher chance of having cravings and relapsing. 

Young girls between ages 12 and 17 are more likely than boys of the same age to misuse prescription stimulants and opioids.

What is Treated in Women’s Rehab?

Women’s rehab centers treat addictions and mental health disorders that are treated in most other general treatment facilities. These include:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Benzodiazepine use disorder
  • Stimulant use disorder
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders and drug dependencies

Women’s rehab will also have aftercare treatment that helps you discover the root of your addiction. Therapy may cover abandonment issues that you experienced as a young woman and any other struggles you’ve been through that led to a substance use disorder.

Treatment Considerations in Women’s Rehab

Certain influencing issues need to be taken into consideration when treating addiction in women. 

  • Family influences: Women who have had troubling lives at home growing up and experienced domestic abuse may likely be in similar situations as they get older. Someone with an abusive father may have married an abusive husband. These situations can drive women to develop substance use disorder. Women in these situations must learn problem-solving skills, communication and stress management while in treatment. Counselors will ask how their family lives affected their drug dependency.
  • Romantic relationships: Women might be afraid to leave abusive relationships because they’re scared of being alone. Counselors in women’s rehab centers need to observe the member’s relationship with their partner and make sure they have a loving and trusting companion.
  • Friendships: Women who have had poor friendships and overall relationships most likely suffered from self-esteem issues and have felt powerless. This can also result in a substance use disorder. Feelings of disconnection need to be addressed by counselors in therapy.
  • Trauma history: Trauma plays a large part in the development of drug dependency. This can also contribute to the development of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. For this reason, women’s rehabs must have quality treatment for co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis. 
  • Pregnancy: Women who misuse drugs and alcohol during pregnancy are putting their baby’s life at risk. Female members may feel ashamed and guilty about using while pregnant, and this can bring on significant stress.
  • Parenting: Drugs and alcohol can affect a woman’s parenting skills and how her children see her. Parenting classes at a women’s rehab center would be beneficial for the member and her recovery. You may also want to look into a center that has therapy for children of addicts.
  • Sexuality: Healthy sexuality is in many ways a large part of a woman’s self-worth. Counselors in women’s rehab should examine a member’s sexuality and how it may have been affected by abuse and drug dependency.

Benefits of Attending Women’s Rehab

Women’s rehab is tailored to the specific feminine needs and concerns of women and girls. It provides a safe space that is more conducive to recovery than co-ed addiction treatment centers.

  • Nurturing environment: Female members of a rehab center are more likely to support each other in treatment. When you have a women-only facility, you get an environment that is supportive and collaborative. 
  • Multidisciplinary approach: Women’s rehab can offer several kinds of therapy and aftercare programs that will offer different approaches to treatment. These can include individual therapy; holistic treatment like homeopathy yoga and acupuncture; cognitive behavioral therapy; and sober living homes.
  • Acceptance of different sexual orientations: Female-only rehab centers tend to be more accepting of the LGBT population than general treatment centers. When you’re in an inclusive space, you’re more likely to open up about your issues with substance use disorders.
  • Security and safety: Many women have developed a drug dependency after experiencing domestic or sexual abuse. If they’re surrounded by men at a general rehab center, they may not feel comfortable opening up, but at a women’s rehab, they’ll feel more safe and secure. Once they feel up to it, they can get to the root of their addiction. 
  • Personalized therapy: Women deal with many complicated emotions and struggles, like low self-esteem, eating disorders and poor self-worth. They may also feel guilty about abandoning their spouses and children to attend treatment. Women’s rehab centers are specifically designed to cater to these emotions.

Treatment Programs Offered in Women’s Rehab

As mentioned earlier, women’s rehab centers typically offer a multidisciplinary approach to addiction treatment. There are various types of treatment programs available in women’s rehab centers. Look into them to find the right one for you. 

  • Family therapy: Family therapy can get your family involved in your recovery so that you can have support on your journey to a healthier life.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT will help you figure out why you think and feel a certain way in the present moment. 
  • Parenting classes: Women who have developed a chemical dependency will have to relearn how to parent while sober. Parenting classes can help members cope with motherhood without turning to alcohol and drugs. 
  • Trauma therapy: Trauma therapy is essential for women who have been victims of domestic violence and child or sexual abuse. This will help you 
  • Holistic therapy: Practices like acupuncture, tai chi and yoga can help center a woman’s spirit and help her recover from addiction without the use of medication. 
  • Dual diagnosis: Women’s treatment centers have a dual diagnosis program that targets co-occurring mental health disorders and drug dependencies.

Experience Women’s Rehab at Sana Lake Recovery Center

If you’re a woman who is struggling with substance use disorder, a women’s rehab program might be the best choice for you. Learn about our specialized addiction treatment for women at Sana Lake Recovery Center. Our representatives are standing by for your call. Contact us today and we’ll help you get on the right path to a substance-free life. 

References:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-women

https://www.turnbridge.com/news-events/latest-articles/signs-of-drug-use-in-women

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.