Rehab For Women: Why It’s Needed Now

Drug and alcohol rehab in Orange County has been a necessity for thousands of families in our community, but rehab just for women is far less common than traditional co-ed facilities. Rarer yet are centers that could cater to pregnant women and mothers of small children, who could not or would not leave their children unattended to be in rehab. It’s the main reason why New Directions for Women was founded—because Pamela Wilder, our founder, was courageous enough to ask her colleagues in the Junior League of Newport Beach to create additional options for drug and alcohol rehab, as it was so limited in the 1970’s. Along with two other strong women, Pamela developed a recovery home for women that would fill the gap of affordable drug and alcohol rehab for women in Orange County.

On top of the difficulty of finding gender-specific rehab in Orange County, women were reaching out to us with one common fear—what will happen to my children if I go to rehab? So we specialized in providing a community-based home for recovery, where women and mothers, and all their children, can recover together in a natural, home-like setting. Our mission goal is simple: we don’t want a single woman to have live with this debilitating disease because she can’t find rehab options near her in Costa Mesa or Orange County, or is too paralyzed with fear and uncertainty to seek out recovery options. We need female-specific recovery centers in our communities because they are tailored to the needs of our mothers, wives, and daughters, and can encourage otherwise hesitant victims to begin their recovery journey. There are three major reasons that make gender-specific treatment the industry ideal: It provides a sanctuary for women who may have faced familial or sexual trauma, it provides resources specific to women’s emotional, familial, and physical needs, and it allows us to use the most effective treatment measures based on reliable research and studies.

Recent advances in medicine have induced a slow but steady adoption of the Biopsychosocial model of medicine, which takes into account the physical, mental, and social health of victims of illness. No other field of medicine has been more relevant to this model than drug and alcohol rehabilitation. It’s been no mystery that violent or emotional trauma is a major factor in addiction among women, with African American women and mothers being at particular risk. Rehab for women is important because it offers women a sanctuary from whatever may trigger, feed, or worsen their addiction. To separate the women we serve from toxic relationships, whether it’s a spouse, boyfriend, or other enabler, is an essential step to promoting their recovery. More so if their addiction is comorbid with another serious prior trauma, be it sexual, physical, or emotional. For such women, a gender-specific treatment option provides them a guarantee of safety and protection, and lets them focus on their own recovery with less distractions. For some of the women most afflicted with addiction, an all-female community also protects them from dependency on a male partner to supply their addictive substances. It takes away a harmful safety net they had in case they were ever unable to get a hold of the substances on their own. Doing so promotes an internal loci of control and encourages positive self-healing. But rehab for women also protects those who are at a loss from lack of male partner in their life. To be able to recover solely with other women and children takes them out of an environment where they may have felt lonely or jealous of others. It’s critical to create a positive social environment for women to recover from addiction, and sometimes that means helping them change their social network.

Addiction is an extremely social issue. A lack of socialization can increase the likelihood of substance use disorder. Exposure to negative social environments can increase exposure to drugs and alcohol. Community-based healing, however, can be an important part of women’s recovery. Women tend to be particularly social. To have a network of support is an essential tool in their recovery from addiction, both during and after recovery. As such, rehab for women provides not just personalized, female-centric recovery, but also builds on lasting social relationships that will empower women to stay substance-free long after their recovery. Gender-specific rehabilitation doubles-up on the safe, protective, community healing environment provided by other services like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Most important of all is New Direction’s policy on childcare. We have trained on-staff childcare experts, family therapists, and a fully-equipped daycare so our women in residency never have to worry about their babies, children, or adolescents. We encourage our women to live with their children during recovery so they can support one another on their trials and tribulations during the difficult recovery process, and heal together. We feel that a mother should never have to go through the struggle of recovery by herself, or worse yet, have to choose between recovery or staying with her children. We believe strongly in the healing power of a close family bond and will do anything we can to try and foster that relationship between a mother and her children. Because of this, we are one of the few recovery homes that are able to accept children as old as 13 to stay with their mother. We have a dedicated home called “Faith House”, which houses our mothers with children in tow. The area is complete with a playground and child-friendly furnishings. It’s one step we’ve found necessary and effective in giving our women an opportunity to truly and fully heal.

Because of the notorious and discriminatory history of women’s health, many modern medical practices are based on laboratory research conducted only on men. Gender-inclusive or female-specific research only evolved slowly over the past century. To have specific rehab for women provides an opportunity to not only work with the best gender-specific research and methods that were developed strictly with women in mind, but to also contribute to the future of women’s recovery and preventative care. The programs at New Directions for Women focus heavily on the most current and proven trends in modern healthcare, with a focus towards long-term sobriety post-graduation. One such example is an emphasis on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which teaches our women methods of understanding their own body and mind, including the symptoms of withdrawal and how to overcome them. We also focus on yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and employ a Chef that cooks healthy, organic meals to teach our families how to embrace long-term physical and mental health. Frequent activity groups, such as mindful walks, pilates, and yoga help our women develop healthy, structured lives. Our strict no-lights-in-the-bedroom policy eliminates sleep-depriving blue light from phones and other devices, and promotes healthy sleep hygiene that improves our women’s energy levels throughout the day. All of these accommodations are intended to improve the quality of life for our women far beyond their stay with us. We want to teach them healthy life skills that they can pass on to their own families, creating an intergenerational habit of health.

At the same time, we also want to acknowledge that women are a huge part of our economy, with a record number of career-oriented and highly successful women in every industry. We understand the fear of a woman that has worked hard for her career, and how hesitant they may be to take time off for their own health. Because of this, New Directions also caters to career women who might otherwise have to choose between drug and alcohol rehab, their careers, or their families. With family therapy, a strong network of alumnae, care partners, and on-site specialists, we do everything we can to ensure the transition into recovery is smooth and tailored to their needs, and that our women’s lives post-graduation are brimming with success.

New Directions was developed by women, for women, with an emphasis on long term social, mental, and physical health. Through a community of women, frequent social interaction, health habit development, and a strong emphasis on modern research, we’re helping thousands of women find their new direction in life.

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