Delays in getting a diagnosis perpetuate substance use disorders for women, and they can come for many different reasons. The barriers may include financial instability, a lack of family support, unresolved trauma, and many other factors. Today, let’s talk about five primary reasons women are not diagnosed with substance use disorders earlier and how to put appropriate care within their reach.
A lack of a timely diagnosis for women with substance use disorders may perpetuate their use for years and lead to more self-destructive behavior over time. Some of the reasons women may experience a delay in receiving a diagnosis can stem from a resistance to asking for help, a compulsion to mask their substance use to maintain their role at home and at work, a lack of adequate support, financial instability, and the lack of a proper diagnosis in the past. For example, a woman living with both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder may have been only diagnosed with the SUD without any attention given to the impact of her mental health on her substance use.
Women may be resistant to asking for help.
Getting a diagnosis of a substance use disorder involves asking someone else for help, whether it’s a family doctor or an addiction specialist. For some women, this act of asking for help is difficult if they associate it with a lack of independence or a sign of weakness. But, getting on the road to recovery cannot be done alone, no matter how independent a woman views herself, and the ability to ask for help is a form of advocating for herself to get the things she needs to live a more healthy and satisfying life.
Women may feel compelled to mask their substance use.
Women with multiple responsibilities at home and at work may see themselves as too integral in those places to pause long enough to address their own needs, even for a short time daily. This need to continue functioning as expected by other people can prompt women to hide their substance use and even turn to substances within reach, for example, to avoid disrupting their commitments and schedules. The choice to admit that substance use has become a regular part of their lives while having a negative impact is a courageous one and can be made privately with a trusted friend, family member, or coworker.
Women may not have adequate support in their lives.
Separation from our former social connections has been a significant issue during the pandemic, but many women may not have had sufficient support in their lives before the outbreak of coronavirus. Without routine support from friends, family, a spouse or partner, they may struggle more intensely with mental, emotional, and physical conditions and return to substance use more often. For many women, a treatment program for substance use disorders or participation in 12-Step recovery fellowships becomes the first experience of being in a supportive environment regularly and they learn to form health connections with peers who may have shared experiences and who are also working towards recovery goals.
Women may be experiencing financial instability.
The regular demands of paying for housing, food, childcare, and other expenses are given top priority and that can mean anything extra gets pushed back indefinitely, even if it harms her own wellness. Financial instability also may prevent a woman from looking at treatment options and assuming every option will be unavailable. The key to overcoming the financial issues and beginning to work towards recovery comes from identifying the resources you may already have available, including access to a family doctor or clinic, as well as exploring what kind of financial assistance you may be eligible for and what kind of treatment is covered by your health insurance, if you have existing coverage.
Women may have gotten the wrong diagnosis in the past.
An attempt to seek help for substance use in the past that ended with a relapse should not be seen as how you handle treatment poorly. Instead, consider how accurate the diagnosis might have been and what it might have been missing about your substance use and your mental health. For example, a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder that overlooks a co-occurring mental health disorder of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is incomplete and becomes far less likely to help you achieve recovery effectively.
We are ready to help your family begin its journey to recovery. Please call anytime at (877) 373-9898 .