At New Directions for Women, we are committed to serving all women – from all backgrounds, ages, and situations. There are many variables women and their families consider once they have made the decision to enter treatment for their substance use disorder. These include choices like:
- Residential vs. outpatient care
- Instate or local programs vs. an out of state program
- Gender-specific vs. co-ed programs
Recovering from addiction with other women has been proven to be more effective long term than attending a co-ed rehab. Women have different needs than men, and addiction treatment modalities should reflect that. These distinctions stem from both biological and sociological differences.
Biologically, men and women have different hormones, body size and composition. Women experience a phenomenon called telescoping, meaning they transition from misuse to dependence to addiction at a much faster pace then men. Although statistically more men have a substance use disorder (11.5%), women are more likely to go to the emergency room or overdose on drugs, and experience side effects such as heart and liver disease or stroke. In general, women weigh less than men, so alcohol and drugs have a greater effect even if the quantity used is less than a man.
Sociologically, women bear the larger brunt of childcare responsibilities, experience more stigma as a result of their addiction (especially pregnant and parenting women) and have relationship dynamics in play. There are more sociological barriers for women who are seeking treatment, with childcare being the main on. 70% of women seeking treatment in our nation have children so attending residential or outpatient treatment can present challenges.
Women are also more likely to have trauma and PTSD, as social risks associated with addiction affect women disproportionately. In an all-female setting, women are more likely to share personal, intimate information which will help them recover. Unaddressed issues prevent successful recovery as the trauma of their past continues to fester.
How does my age factor into addiction treatment?
A woman’s stage of life directly impacts their addiction history and therefore, their treatment needs as well. At New Directions for Women, we have over forty years of experience serving all women, whether they are 18 years of age and finishing up high school, or a grandmother whose adult grandchildren are encouraging them to get the professional help they need to recover from addiction.
In general, younger women are less likely to hide their drug use and continue using even if they are facing legal problems or other conflicts. They are less likely to accept the need for treatment and accept their own behaviors are harmful. It is important that family members are supportive and involved in the holistic treatment plan, especially when young women are living at home with their families.
In general, more mature women may develop addiction to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism from the loss of loved ones or changes in their job status and income (retirement). Age related changes, including changes in hormones, make women more sensitive to the effects of drugs and alcohol. Finally, older adults may have ongoing medical issues that compromise their overall health.
It may be harder for individuals of various ages to understand each other’s experiences, so we also offer Mature Women and Young Women process groups where they can discuss various issues directly related to their stage of life with peers. This is in addition to the treatment protocols that all women do together, including group and individual counseling, family sessions, and life skills.
We believe that having women of all ages come together with one common goal – recovery – is very beneficial. Young women can meet others who have struggled with addiction for decades, inspiring them to live the rest of their lives sober. Mature women who struggle with addiction may experience loss of relationships with children or grandchildren and being around young women can inspire them to seek sobriety to regain family relationships.
We were founded on the principle of healing women with addictions in a gender-specific setting with dignity and grace. Unfortunately, women are more likely to experience shame and guilt around their addiction and wait longer to seek professional help which results in rapid progression of their disease. Call us today to take the next step towards wellness.