My name is Patty Henderson. I’m the Executive Director of Women in New Recovery, also known as the Winner Program in Mesa, Arizona and in Prescott, Arizona. We’re an extended care treatment center for women, gender-specific, single-gender program, and we provide services to women from 18 to 72. Women and men use for different reasons. Men often use because of stress or work-related issues. Women use because of emotional issues, and that goes hand-in-hand with the concept of women coming into treatment that are traumatized.
Seventy to eighty percent of woman have lived through abuse of some kind in their life. The abusers for women are generally people who say “I love you.” And for men, abusers, the abuse, the trauma, is around the enemy. So for women, it’s very confusing because they’re the very people that said, “I love you. I’ll take care of you. I’ll protect you” and so now they’ve been the abuser. So she has conflict inside of her and with that conflict, she either can’t trust her own judgment for the people that she’s choosing or she’s believing that she deserved what she got because how could someone who says they care about you do that to you unless you deserved it.
So women are much more complex and for them to recover, they need to be in a very safe environment. They’re not gonna be able to get to these kind of issues. They’re not gonna be able to even start to uncover them if they still have to play act at something, if they still have to put on a show of some kind. The differences between men and women with regard to the stigma of being an addict or an alcoholic might be compared to simply men are thought of as perhaps bums or maybe they’re just sowing their oats.
They’re doing what boys do. For women, it’s a moral issues. You’re a slut. You are a loose woman and you’re certainly not a good mother, so it cuts right to the core of her being, and so when she comes into recovery, in order for her to admit that she has a problem and to say I’m gonna do something about that, she’s gotta come to some kind of terms with the shame and the guilt that she feels. It’s definitely a double standard between men and women.
Men are going through a phase. Men are, maybe they’re even losers, but the moral, you know, when we pin those moral tones on women, they have to live through that, and they have to somehow shake it off, say they don’t care about it. They never say that it’s not true. The internalize that. They believe that that’s absolutely true. So they have to get to a point where it’s safe enough for them to start doing some work on it. They have to be around other women long enough to realize that that is not the problem, the other woman is not the problem, and that they are not the problem. They have a disease of addiction that needs to be addressed, needs to be taken care of, but it’s not a moral failing.
The goal of treatment at WINR, Winner, is basically to bring that woman back into relationship with herself, her true self, to reintroduce her to the value that she has and to give her a strong sense of herself, give that back to her. She’s basically lost that in the process of addiction, and without regaining that, her chances of being successful in life, even if she does stay sober are pretty minimal. So our goal really is to help her not only achieve sobriety, long-term sobriety, but also return to her community and her family with her head help up high and knowing that she’s a worthwhile person.
In closing, 7 million women need treatment. We’re a small program. We’re doing our part. If you or a loved one need our help, be sure and call today.