The Challenges of Women Addiction: How to Overcome Commonly Given Advice

Women are often the overlooked group in terms of addiction, but recent studies have revealed that the rate of addiction in women is on the rise. Given this, it is important that women understand their addiction and are equipped with the tools to overcome it. This article will discuss the challenges associated with women addiction, as well as some advice commonly given to women, and why it is not necessarily effective.

Firstly, women struggling with addiction face certain additional challenges that many men do not. Generally speaking, women may be less likely to seek help and treatment due to society’s expectations of what a woman should and should not do. While it is true that addiction affects everyone, the stigma around addiction can lead women to feel ashamed to admit they have a problem. This barrier to seeking help can make all the difference when it comes to successfully overcoming addiction.

Which leads to the next issue – that women often receive advice from family and friends that can add to rather than reduce their barriers to recovery. While well-meaning, oftentimes such advice is misguided or simply not useful or appropriate. Common examples include “just quit” or “you need to be stronger,” both of which can be unhelpful and add to feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness.

Unfortunately, this type of misguided advice can cause women to feel further from their own recovery. That’s why it is so important for those around women with addiction to recognize that no matter the advice offered, it is ultimately up to the individual to decide what works best for them and how they develop their journey to recovery.

Ultimately, each person’s journey is unique and it is important to be aware that what works for some might not work for others. Some advice to keep in mind when helping someone with addiction is to be supportive and provide a safe place, accept that addiction is a real struggle that requires hard work to overcome, and most importantly, to never suggest a “quick fix” – it is important to understand that recovery is going to be a process.

Additionally, offering actual help is much more effective than simply offering advice. This can take many forms, such as helping someone traveling to treatment, offering to attend support group meetings, or simply being there to provide emotional support.

Moreover, it is important for women struggling with addiction to remember that they have a support network as well. This could be friends, family or even a support group like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, where people can share their stories of strength, hope and resilience in the face of addiction. Such support is essential for recovery and it can be extremely powerful for individuals to know that they have a sympathetic ear who can offer understanding and support.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that addiction is a difficult and challenging journey and that no advice, no matter how well-meaning, is a substitute for professional help and self-care. For individuals struggling with addiction, it is important to take the time to find what works best for them in terms of recovery, whether it be joining a support group, attending therapy or seeking out a residential treatment program. By understanding the challenges associated with addiction, as well as understanding which advice is and isn’t helpful, those struggling can make more informed decisions and move forward in their journey with greater understanding and hope.

Why Women Become Addicts

Addiction is a condition that affects literally every demographic on earth. There is no group, nation or sect of people that is immune to addiction, including every second person on earth: women. When it comes to women’s addiction studies, we observe that addiction looks different on women than it does on men, for a number of reasons. Causes of addiction in women tend to include things like environment, life stress and mental disorders.

The environment a woman is surrounded by is one of the biggest factors influencing whether or not she is addicted. The environment that a women was surrounded by growing up is the one that contributes most significantly to her addictive tendencies. A women’s psyche is greatly affected by the guardians who raised her, siblings and peers in her youth and life events that occurred when she was young. This time in her life molds her into the mental healthiness or unhealthiness that she will grow into. The environment she was raised in will inform the environment she finds herself in as an adult and will play a large part in the decisions she makes as an adult, including whether or not she is addicted.

Life stress contributes a great deal to a woman’s addiction as well. Women become prone to addiction when things are not moving in a positive direction in their lives. If children are having behavioral problems or a spouse is not contributing like they should, women take it to heart heavily. If they are let go from a job or are victim to a traumatic experience, their stress level increases exponentially. This can be the impetus for a woman’s addiction, as it is often leaned on as a coping mechanism.

Mental disorders are also a leading cause of addiction among women. When a person has a mental disorder and an addiction, it is called a co-occurring disorder. It can be confusing determining which came first; the mental disorder or the addiction, but a mental health professional who specializes in co-occurring disorders can distinguish them. When women have mental disorders, it wreaks havoc on their emotions and they will often form addictive habits as a way of escaping.

Common Female Addictions

There are a number of things that women become addicted to, but some are more commonly observed than others. Women turn to addictive substances and activities in an attempt to cope and to escape with life circumstances they cannot deal with. Addiction in women varies from men in motivation and in expression. Some of the most common female addictions are listed below:

  • Alcohol. A large number of women consume alcohol as a means of escaping from their problems. Alcohol is a dangerous addiction for women to succumb to because they lack an enzyme that men have that enables their bodies to break down alcohol more efficiently. Alcohol consumption increases the disease rate in women by a significant percentage.
  • Drugs. Be it prescription drugs or street drugs, women may become addicted as a way of escaping or as a form of comfort. Prescription drugs in particular become a security blanket for many women who are afraid to feel physical discomfort and become dependent on substances that mask it.
  • Food. Food is another comfort / security blanket addiction for women. Consuming comfort food creates endorphins and dopamine within women that trigger many desirable pleasure responses. It can be very difficult for women to control their impulse to moderate what and how much they eat.
  • Sex. Sex becomes a compulsive, addictive behavior for many women. A sex addiction in women is commonly a way of trying to numb one’s self to past abandonment and is often an indication of running from pain.
  • Shopping. Like sex, shopping is a process addiction, meaning the high comes from repeating a pleasurable process. Purchasing items makes many women feel a sense of richness in obtaining their desires and can become compulsive, even to the detriment of their finances and personal space.
  • Internet. The internet is addictive to men and women alike, but women are likely to lose themselves to the internet because it makes for a great distraction from problems.

How Women Can Defeat Their Addictions

Women and men both struggle with addiction in their own right. It used to be believed that men were far more prone to addiction, but the gender gap on the subject of addiction has largely been closed, revealing that men and women struggle in equal measure with the condition of affliction. Women’s addictions look different than men’s. They respond differently to addiction and go about recovery in ways that vary from men. In order for women to recover from addiction, they can seek help in various forms, depending on the severity of their addiction.

  • Residential Rehabilitation. For the most severe cases of addiction, residential rehab is statistically the most successful treatment method because it is the most intensive, immersing and extended of any treatment method.
  • Outpatient Rehabilitation. Outpatient rehab offers many of the same treatment tactics as residential rehab but the individual continues to live on their own and support themselves in the real world. This is the less intensive version of residential rehab.
  • Sober Living Houses. Often called halfway houses, these facilities offer living accommodations for people who support themselves but could benefit from the supervision and rules of addiction specialists who oversee their way of life.
  • Counseling. For less severe addictions, weekly counseling can be the perfect remedy. Sometimes all a person needs is a new level of self awareness, which can be achieved by bringing an objective, expert opinion into the individual’s life.
  • Support Group Meetings. These addiction fighting groups meet either weekly or monthly to form connections and relationships in order to support one another and cheer each other on through recovery. They are largely effective for people who have already acquired some basic recovery tools.
  • Self help methods. Self help involves taking in expert advice from literature or other materials on how to recover from addiction, and then actively applying it to one’s life. This is a good option for strongly self motivated people and those with relatively minor addiction problems.

Treatment for Addicted Females

When women are addicted, it is very important that they receive help. Women and men respond to and recover from addiction in different ways, just like they do other things in life differently. Women tend to be more organized about their emotions while men tend to be more out of touch with their emotions. Women respond more strongly in many ways to cognitive behavioral reasoning because many women naturally think about their emotions, thought patterns and behaviors. This is why women tend to benefit enormously from inpatient addiction treatment.

In addiction treatment, or rehab, women will first encounter a detox if they have been abusing any substances. This is to ensure that their body chemistry is normal while they are going through treatment, which is for their own good and the good of everyone who comes in contact with them. It is important that women go through detox under medical supervision so that their withdrawal symptoms do not become dangerous to their health.

After the detox is finished, the female client will begin psychological treatment and therapy. This is where an understanding of women and how they navigate addiction is important. Women or their support systems should select a rehab based on how their treatment program can tailor to her individual needs. There are rehabs that are gender specific for women who only want to come in contact with other women during treatment. Many rehabs are co-ed, but separate the women from the men in the living environment. The addiction specialists and counselors should be very familiar with women’s needs in order to execute treatment properly, and the exercises, readings, recreation and therapies should also consider the needs of women in their design.

Women in North America have a number of treatment options available to them. Canada and the United States are home to some of the best rehabs and addiction treatment centers in the world. Women in the United States can choose between alcohol rehabs in Los Angeles, drug rehabs in New York or treatment centers in Miami. Women in Canada have a range of choices as well, such as a Vancouver addiction treatment center, a Calgary drug rehab or a Toronto alcohol rehab. Reach out for help today!

Women Struggling With Addiction

Statistically, men are more likely to struggle with addiction than women. This fact is frequently misinterpreted to mean that women seldom struggle with addiction. The truth is, women struggle with addiction at a rate comparable to men, but slightly lesser. Addiction is universally human, and women are very much in need of support and treatment when they are struggling with addiction. There is a great deal of light that needs to be shed on how addiction affects women in particular, but psychologists are aware of some facets of addiction that are unique to women.

One distinction between the way that addiction affects women verses men is what prompts women to become addicts. Women are slightly more likely to become addicts due to a need for escape or comfort, where as men are slightly more likely to become addicted to the pleasure and adrenaline of addiction. Some psychologists argue that, due to the evolutionary biology of women having less control of society than men, they exhibit their need for control over their inner lives, such as their imaginations and fantasies, or in some cases, they defer to the attention of men for comfort or feelings of control. This explains the nature of common addictions among women.

Several common addictions that women struggle with are love, romance and sex, as well as a number of substance related addictions such as prescription drugs or alcohol, and process addictions such as gambling. Men and women share some of these addictions closely, but addiction to love is statistically a more female problem.

Addiction treatment for women is widely available for those who are willing to reach out for help. Confronting the underlying reasons for addiction is emotionally taxing and scary, but it is also the only way to heal. There are addiction treatment centers that are created specifically for women, to help women through the addiction problems that are particular to them. If you or a women you care about is struggling with addiction, receive help today.