Scientific research has shown that the effects of alcohol and drugs are much more serious in women: two years of drinking or using drugs by a woman produces the same harmful effects as a man would experience after ten years of using them.
As a result, when mature women in recovery enter the process of assessment and treatment, it can be much more involved.
Identifying Physical Effects
When mature women enter New Directions for Women, we take a very thorough approach towards assessing their well being on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level — sometimes allowing weeks or even months to perform the assessment.
The reason is, that without this thoroughness we can’t be sure whether her physical problems will be exacerbated by the process of detox and withdrawal. Often, the substances she has been using might be covering up her addiction’s serious physical effects.
To make matters worse, mature women often cannot themselves accurately see their own illness.
We realize that denial is often part of substance use disorder, and it can be especially serious for mature women: in particular, those women who have never experienced a longer period of recovery during their lives experience a particularly powerful degree of denial.
Social Issues in Baby Boomers
Gender-separated treatment is especially crucial for mature women due to the era when they grew up. Most of the mature women we see fall into the “Baby Boomer” generation which means they grew up in a period when men and women had fixed roles.
Many of the issues and Trauma which are contributing to their addiction relate to the social expectations they were born into.
Their time was a period of co-dependence between women as primary caretakers and men as primary breadwinners, and it’s our experience that these are major issues for mature women in recovery.
As mature women work towards recovery, they need a safe space to find their own power and self-esteem. Research has shown that it is possible to address Trauma at the same time as addiction through the use of experiential therapy and cognitive behavioural therapies, but only in the right environment and after properly assessing relationship issues.
All mature women experience physical changes as a result of aging, therefore addressing and accepting the aging process is something every women must address in time.
As women experience menopause, they’re often prescribed very strong medications to help work through the process — compounded with the emotional challenges associated with this point in life, this can make recovery more involved. The anxiety, fear, forgetfulness, and depression that mature women experience, may trigger her addiction unless they’re fully addressed as well.
Crucial to recovery for mature women is ensuring that she feels comfortable with her body. If a woman can address her bodily changes in an environment with other women inside the same age range, it is extremely helpful to the process of healing.
How We Help
There are many other issues specific to mature women in recovery, of course. Our programs deliver age-specific and relevant services, including specific age group-oriented therapy where women can be honest and open about their struggles.
Our clinicians discuss the effects of recovery and hormones on the body and our patients are regularly encouraged to stay in touch with their body and recognize how hormones are affecting the way they feel.
We also encourage participation in activities with a low physical impact yet a high emotional and mental return, like walking or yoga. In our experience, these activities help maintain sobriety and a new, healthier lifestyle after recovery.