Men and women are inherently different.
The two sexes are physically, biologically, and psychologically distinct in many ways. While some people question just how diverse men and women really are, one thing is certain: men and women have many very different life experiences. From high school prom to getting married, and raising children to the work field, life events and even daily living are experienced differently. Some are even quite contrast. In an article called 15 Ways Life Is Different For Men And Women And Why, on thetalko.com, Caroline James lists “the most prominent ways in which life pans out differently for men and women”.
Sex and Gender Differences
The reason men and women have different experiences in life is two-fold. There are differences based on biology (sex), and differences based on culturally defined roles (gender). So, before looking at the challenges women face in recovery, let’s look at how women experience addiction itself, differently than men. The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines what science has to say about women and substance abuse:
- Women often use substances differently than men, such as using smaller amounts of certain drugs for less time before they become addicted.
- Women can respond to substances differently. For example, they may have more drug cravings and may be more likely to relapse after treatment.
- Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs.
- Women who use drugs may also experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels.
- Brain changes in women who use drugs can be different from those in men.
- Women may be more likely to go to the emergency room or die from overdose or other effects of certain substances.
- Women who are victims of domestic violence are at increased risk of substance use.
- Divorce, loss of child custody, or the death of a partner or child can trigger women’s substance use or other mental health disorders.
- Women who use certain substances may be more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety, or depression.
Women and Addiction Recovery
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but many women entering recovery encounter these hurdles. Some of the challenges women face in recovery include shame, relationship issues, dual-diagnosis, and pregnancy/motherhood.
Shame – this emotion is not unique to women in recovery, but it’s origins often are. Women sometimes turn to, or are made to do, things in their addiction which lead to self-esteem and shame issues.
Relationship Issues – again, many people, especially in addiction will find themselves in unhealthy relationships. Women, however, tend to gravitate toward codependency , especially in their addictions. Additionally, seeking out new relationships is a distraction that many women find appealing in early recovery.
Dual-diagnosis – also known as co-occurring disorders, is when a person is experiencing another issue or issues alongside substance abuse disorder. This may be depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, eating disorder, or something else. Women in recovery also often deal with trauma and PTSD issues.
Pregnancy/Motherhood – a truly unique challenge, pregnant women often have a difficult time getting into treatment and making plans for the immediate future. Mothers face the challenge of childcare during treatment/recovery, and may be dealing with CPS as well.
How Windhaven House Helps
Windhaven House is a transitional sober living program for women looking for comprehensive recovery support after completing primary treatment. The dedicated and compassionate team at WHH is focused on helping women build a solid foundation for sobriety, gain a sense of community, and learn life skills, all while nurturing growth and development in addiction recovery. Our goal is to help them to become the women that they were created to be.