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Overcoming Addiction Stigma as a Woman

John Templeton Jr. - October 22, 2019

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Addiction stigma, the combination of negative personal and societal views of substance use and addiction, can be a difficult obstacle on your path to recovery. In fact, it’s estimated that 90% of the people struggling with addiction delay or fail to seek treatment for substance use disorders largely due to these pervasive feelings and views.

Until relatively recently, most addiction research has centered on the male experience. However, treatment programs are beginning to recognize the different challenges men and women face on the road to recovery. In doing so, rehab facilities are becoming better equipped to help women overcome addiction, but there is still the hurdle of overcoming addiction stigma in order to seek this help in the first place.

Different Challenges Faced by Women with Addiction

While men are still more likely to develop issues with substance use, women face challenges of their own.

Women tend to use smaller amounts of drugs for shorter periods of time before developing addiction. Co-occurring conditions like depression or bipolar disorder can complicate addiction and recovery, and more women suffer from these issues than men.

The majority of female users have a parent who also experienced substance use disorder. Many women in treatment have been victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence. Self-medicating unresolved trauma is a very common reason people begin using drugs or alcohol. It may help you feel better for a while, but you’re only treating the symptoms. Even worse, this temporary fix can cause a whole host of other problems.

The Consequences of Drug Addiction as a Woman

Mental and physical differences between men and women are partially responsible for the disparity in how each group is impacted by addiction. However, societal expectations also play a role.

On average, women tend to have lower body weight than men. Combined with a body makeup that typically has a higher percentage of fat and less water, alcohol and other substances can remain in the system for longer and cause more damage. This is one of the reasons women may experience or report more health consequences of substance use than their male counterparts.

Hormonal differences, menstrual cycles, menopause, pregnancy and breastfeeding are other circumstances women struggling with addiction may face that aren’t served by male-focused or gender-neutral treatment. Though societal norms may be shifting, women are still often the primary or sole caregiver for children, which can make it difficult to commit to a residential treatment program. The combination of these factors can lead to greater feelings of shame and guilt that oftentimes prevent someone from seeking help.

Women Dealing with Addiction Stigma

It’s important to understand that addiction is a complex condition. Often, a combination of genetic and environmental factors are involved. It’s not a sign of moral failing. It’s not a conscious choice you made. If you have tried to quit on your own and failed, you are not alone.

With professional help, you can greatly reduce your risk of relapse. In treatment, you’ll be able to develop healthier coping mechanisms, identify self-destructive behavior and build support systems that can bolster your recovery efforts. Don’t let the stigma of addiction prevent you from getting the help you deserve.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Women

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we understand the importance of addressing your total, overall state of wellness. Your mind, body and spirit all require healing to give you a better chance of recovery and a reduced risk of relapse.

With separate living quarters for our female and male clients, as well as, partial days dedicated to gender-specific treatment, we embrace the different experiences that come with being a woman. In our women empowerment groups, you can explore healing and hope in a safe environment led by compassionate, knowledgeable professionals who are truly invested in your recovery.

Talk to our addiction experts and take the first steps towards a happier, healthier drug-free life today.

Call Now: 877-250-3935