Whether it’s individuals experimenting with drugs or alcohol or wrestling with full-on addiction, substance abuse is a real problem in the U.S. That’s more or less the takeaway from a 2021 study published by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which revealed an estimated 22% of the U.S. population aged 12 or older abused drugs in 2020. For context, that’s a little over 61 million people. The organization further revealed that young adults aged 18 to 25 represent the highest percentage of people officially classified with chemical dependency or substance use disorder (SUD). Something else worthy of note is addiction statistics specific to women. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), an estimated 20% of individuals in addiction recovery programs are women.
Table of Contents
- The Reality of Addiction and Its True Impact on Women
- Trauma and Mental Health Disorders in Women
- The Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Signs of Addiction in Women
- Social and Behavioral Changes That Suggest a Woman Might Be Struggling With Addiction
- How Women-Only Rehabs Make It Easier for Women To Break the Cycle of Addiction
The Reality of Addiction and Its True Impact on Women
Whenever substance abuse comes up in conversation, it tends to revolve around men and their struggles with drugs, alcohol, or, in some cases, both. But women are no strangers to those same struggles, albeit for slightly different reasons than men. Of the roughly 20% of American women currently struggling with addiction, most say they ended up that way because they got involved in an intimate relationship with a male partner who introduced them to the lifestyle. Another reason is mental illness; an estimated 32 million women living with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dual diagnosis, health conditions, and eating disorders engage in some form of substance abuse. This combination of substance abuse and mental illness is known clinically as a co-occurring disorder. Common substances that go hand in hand with such a disorder include the following:
In addition to these drugs, a recent study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that women with a mental illness are more likely to experiment with and ultimately develop an addiction to methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and other street-level drugs.
Trauma and Mental Health Disorders in Women
Although men are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol and develop an addiction, women tend to spiral down that path much faster. Available data shows this is because women are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, often to cope with trauma symptoms related to being physically or sexually assaulted. Some of the more notable of those trauma symptoms include the following:
- Chronic fatigue
- Depression and anxiety
- Emotional numbness
The Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Signs of Addiction in Women
Along with experiencing many of the same symptoms when they abuse drugs and alcohol as men do, most women also encounter a few that occur strictly in the female body. For example, in a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), researchers found that women who abuse street-level and prescription-based stimulants and opioids are more likely to experience adverse changes in their menstrual cycle than women who do not. And this is in addition to abnormalities in their gastrointestinal, neuromuscular, and cardiac systems, which men also experience when they abuse the same drugs. Some women encounter reproductive issues, which can preclude them from having children. But it does not end there; the following are also common signs of addiction among women:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Changes in complexion, including acne, jaundice, or skin paleness
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Poor hygiene
- Unintended weight loss
Social and Behavioral Changes That Suggest a Woman Might Be Struggling With Addiction
Like men, women, too, exhibit noticeable social and behavioral changes when they have a problem with drugs, alcohol, or a co-occurring disorder. Some of them are subtle, and others are pretty hard to miss. The most notable of these social and behavioral changes include the following:
- Suddenly missing numerous work, family, or social engagements
- Frequently lying and being secretive
- Routinely and uncharacteristically borrowing or stealing money from friends, family, or even strangers
How Women-Only Rehabs Make It Easier for Women To Break the Cycle of Addiction
Before detailing why gender-specific recovery programs are beneficial to women trying to overcome addiction, we should take a moment to shine a light on the positive trend when it comes to America’s substance abuse crisis. Multiple studies show not everyone is content with living a life consumed by finding, buying, and abusing drugs, one of which comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That study revealed approximately 1.3 million people with a drug or alcohol problem were newly admitted into a substance abuse treatment facility in 2020. Another study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about 8% of the roughly 15 million people in the U.S. with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) have and are continuing to receive the treatment they need to help them quit drinking.
When it comes to addiction recovery, there is no one-size-fits-all approach; what might work for one individual might not work for the next. And this is especially true when it comes to addiction recovery treatments for women versus men. Considering how differently addiction impacts women compared to men, there is no better place for women to turn to when they’re ready to quit drugs or alcohol. Multiple studies have long confirmed that addiction recovery programs in women-only rehab facilities are better equipped to help women address specific areas that drive their addictive behaviors, many of which are rooted in physical and sexual abuse, than their traditional counterparts.
Getting Through Detox
After mentally committing to quitting drugs or alcohol, the next step in a woman’s journey toward breaking the cycle of addiction entails getting through detox. After mentally committing to quitting drugs or alcohol, the next step in a woman’s journey toward breaking the cycle of addiction entails getting through detox. This aspect of addiction recovery is one that men also endure. And for men and women alike, it is quite possibly the most challenging part of getting clean. For those unfamiliar with detox, it is the process by which the body naturally rids itself of drugs, alcohol, and other harmful contaminants. While it is a critical step in addiction recovery, most women, like men, struggle with difficult withdrawal symptoms that present within days or hours after they have stopped using. Most of those symptoms mirror the ones men experience and include the following:
- Changes in appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Depression and anxiety
- Muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Profuse sweating
Coping With Withdrawal Symptoms During Detox
In addition to the withdrawal symptoms men and women share when they go through detox, there are a few that only women experience. And this is when it benefits women to be in a woman-focused rehab facility. Those women-specific symptoms are fertility, menopause, pregnancy, hormone imbalance, menstrual, and breastfeeding related. Most women-focused rehab facilities recognize that these symptoms can be challenging. As such, most offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT), a treatment modality that comprises round-the-clock monitoring by a licensed physician and access to prescription-based medications. Along with FDA-approved drugs to help with fertility, hormonal imbalance, breastfeeding, and other withdrawal symptoms specific to women, these medications include several that speed relief from universal withdrawal symptoms, such as pain, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, tremors, and seizures. The more notable of these include the following:
Overcoming the Psychological Aspects of Addiction
One of the areas where women-only rehab facilities really shine is in helping women overcome the psychological aspects of addiction. And this is especially important since women tend to suffer from co-occurring disorders at a much higher rate than men. According to a study published by the Mayo Clinic, an esteemed nonprofit academic medical center in Rochester, Minnesota, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder than men. Because that is the case, most women-only rehab facilities emphasize addiction counseling to help women with the psychological aspects of their addiction recovery. These counseling sessions can be in the form of one-on-one or group sessions with a licensed therapist. Both options can benefit women who are victims of trauma and suffering from a related co-occurring disorder. Common one-on-one and group counseling sessions offered by therapists in most women-only drug rehab programs include
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Neurological interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions with a licensed therapist generally consist of 6 to 20 sessions, each lasting 30 to 60 minutes. The objective of these sessions is to modify or put an end to harmful beliefs and maladaptive behaviors. During CBT sessions, women learn how to break problems down according to how they physically make them feel and the thoughts they provoke. Doing this reduces the chances of those problems becoming so overwhelming they turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a go-to behavioral therapy for women struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially those who engage in self-harm behaviors, which is common among women who are victims of physical or sexual assault. Examples of self-harm behaviors include suicidal attempts, suicidal ideations, or self-mutilation. DBT sessions with a licensed therapist generally last six months and comprise four modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
Community and Friendship
Another benefit women gain in turning to a women-only rehab facility to get help overcoming addiction is they feel less alone in their addiction recovery journey. Many women make friends with other women who, like themselves, were introduced to drugs or alcohol by a romantic partner or had a similarly traumatic life experience that led to them abusing drugs or alcohol. Irrespective of what brings them together, women who establish these friendships often complete rehab and go on to maintain long-term sobriety, according to several studies. Women who turn to these facilities for help also benefit from a sense of community, which comes with being cared for by a team of addiction experts, therapists, physicians, and others who want nothing more than to see them succeed. And that’s why they work collectively to address and help them with various aspects of their addiction recovery, some of which revolve around the following:
- Childcare and pregnancy issues
- Combating chronic pain
- Eating disorders
- Female empowerment
- Life fulfillment
- Low self-esteem
- Sexual abuse and trauma
In summary, there are multiple rehab facilities that women can turn to when they’re ready to end their relationship with drugs or alcohol abuse. And they would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t at least consider a women-only rehab facility, especially if they have a co-occurring disorder. To that end, if you’re a woman struggling with addiction and would like to learn more about this unique approach to addiction recovery and why it seems to be resonating with more and more women, consider scheduling a consultation with an Illinois Recovery Center associate today.
What is a rehab for women?
A rehab for women is a specialized treatment center/facility that provides addiction treatment programs and support services specifically tailored to meet the needs of women dealing with substance abuse or addiction issues.
Why are there rehabs specifically for women?
Women often face unique challenges and experiences related to addiction, including gender-specific issues, trauma, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Rehabs for women create a safe and supportive environment that addresses these specific needs.
What types of addiction do rehabs for women treat?
Rehabs for women can treat various types of substance abuse and addiction, including alcohol addiction, drug addiction (such as opioids, cocaine, or prescription medications), and co-occurring mental health issues.
What services are offered in rehabs for women?
Rehabs for women typically offer a range of services, including individual counseling, group therapy, support groups, medical detoxification (if necessary), holistic and evidence-based therapies, trauma-informed care, relapse prevention, parenting support, and aftercare planning.
Are rehabs for women residential or outpatient programs?
Rehabs for women can offer both residential treatment(inpatient) and outpatient programs. Residential programs provide a structured, 24/7 supportive environment, while outpatient programs allow women to attend treatment sessions while living at home or in a sober living facility.
How long do women’s rehab programs typically last?
The duration of women’s rehab programs can vary depending on the individual’s needs and the rehab center. It can range from 30 days to several months. Some rehabs offer longer-term programs that extend up to a year or more.
How do I choose a rehab for women?
When choosing a rehab for women such as yourself or a loved one, consider factors such as the addiction treatment center’s accreditation, staff qualifications, treatment approaches, success rates, availability of specialized services (such as trauma-informed care), cost, location, and aftercare support options.
Are there rehabs for women that cater to specific populations, such as pregnant women or mothers with children?
Yes, there are rehabs specifically designed to meet the needs of pregnant women or mothers with children. These facilities provide specialized care that addresses the unique challenges faced by these populations, such as prenatal care, parenting support, and childcare services.
Are rehabs for women covered by insurance?
Many rehabs for women accept insurance coverage, although the extent of coverage may vary depending on the insurance provider and the specific treatment facility. It’s important to contact your insurance company and inquire about coverage for the addiction treatment plan.
What are the benefits of attending a rehab for women?
Attending a rehab for women offers several benefits, such as receiving gender-specific care that addresses women’s unique needs, building a supportive community with other women facing similar challenges, addressing trauma and co-occurring disorders, and gaining tools and skills for long-term recovery. Just reach out and we will help you get started.