Both men and women suffer from the devastating physical and emotional consequences of addiction to alcohol or drugs, but many studies have shown that women in particular face several hurdles and barriers in identifying addiction, seeking treatment, and receiving effective treatment to help them overcome the addiction. Here are some of the unique challenges that women face.

 

Internal Barriers

 

Many women who seek substance abuse treatment are at a disadvantage from the start. Since they are less likely to recognize substance abuse, and studies have shown that women who fall victim to substance abuse tend to have lower levels of education and lower socioeconomic status, they often seek treatment on their own, ask friends or family members, or are referred through the criminal justice system. By contrast, the majority of men are referred to treatment programs through doctors, employers, or the legal system, and these sources tend to have better knowledge of available options.

 

Many women also see their drug addiction as a stress-related issue and assume that it will go away without treatment as soon as their stress levels subside. Women often have more family responsibilities in raising children and therefore might feel like they are unable to leave their loved ones for an extended period of time to seek treatment, or might be in denial about the seriousness of their addiction. Finally, women who experience substance abuse often have depression and anxiety that cause them to delay treatment, or may have experienced some type of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse that causes feelings of shame and trauma.

 

Societal Barriers

 

There is still a significant stigma attached to women who use and abuse drugs and alcohol, particularly for women who are pregnant or have children. Without the support to help take care of children and family or work obligations during recovery and rehabilitation, women are often discouraged from seeking treatment. The social shame and potential disapproval of friends, family, co-workers, and employers is enough to keep many women out of treatment entirely, and the fear of losing custody of children is another power de-motivator.

 

Treatment Center Barriers

 

Finally many women are intimidated and may face additional barriers from treatment centers themselves. For example, a woman who experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a male perpetrator might feel frightened at the idea of seeking treatment from facilities where men are present. Since women often have a large responsibility for childcare and may also be working or lack insurance coverage, treatment centers can seem out of reach financially.

 

Fortunately there are treatment facilities that recognize that the needs of women are different from those of men, and that it can be beneficial to have a program specifically designed to break down these barriers and help women find treatment. If you or someone you know is looking for addiction recovery for women or alcohol rehab for women, contact Annie’s House today to learn more about our programs that focus entirely on helping women overcome addiction.