Substance Abuse Treatment for Women

Women who have experienced substance abuse need to receive the kind of treatment that is best for them. In many cases, this means women only substance abuse treatment. There are specific facilities designed for the treatment of women only where male patients are not allowed to attend. This may be necessary for the successful recovery of many women who need an environment where they can be more comfortable and relaxed during treatment.

Why Would Women Need Female Only Substance Abuse Treatment?

According to a study from the NCBI, “A high proportion of women with substance use disorders have histories of trauma, often perpetrated by persons they both knew and trusted.” This kind of history can make it very difficult on these women to open up in treatment and to even feel comfortable in their treatment facility, especially if they are sharing the space with strange men. One of the reasons why women only substance abuse treatment could be necessary is to take an issue like this out of the equation so female patients can feel more comfortable in the facility and with their surroundings.

women and substance abuse

In women’s rehab programs treatment is tailored to their specific needs as women.

Another important aspect of women only substance abuse treatment is the judgement women feel they will receive by needing treatment in the first place. “The societal stigma toward women who abuse substances tends to be greater than that toward men, and this stigma can prevent women from seeking or admitting that they need help.” But, with a women only substance abuse treatment center, women are able to see the other patients are all similar to them in at least one way and that seeking help should not be something to be ashamed of.

A women’s only substance abuse treatment center can also help with the issues of:

  • Treatment retention
  • Parental responsibilities
  • “Women’s generally lower economic status”
    • According to another NCBI study, some women’s only substance abuse treatment facilities are less expensive than those of mixed-gender status
  • Pregnancy
  • Job-related issues

What are Women Only Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Like?

Women only substance abuse treatment facilities are similar to other group-specific facilities in that they focus directly on a certain group or population in order to be especially helpful to them. For example, there are also men only treatment facilities as well as LGBTQ facilities, centers for those who were formerly incarcerated, centers for adolescents, and many other specific facilities meant for a certain population with specific needs.

Facilities that are meant for the treatment of women only will accept female patients and cater to their unique needs as women. This is not to say that all the main treatments one expects from a substance abuse treatment facility will not be available; medication, behavioral therapies, vocational counseling, and other treatments that are commonly practiced in substance abuse treatment will be available to patients at a women’s only substance abuse treatment center. In addition, however, specific treatments will be added that are especially geared to the needs of female addiction patients.

According to the NIDA, “Gender-related drug abuse treatment should attend not only to biological differences but also to social and environmental factors, all of which can influence the motivations for drug use, the reasons for seeking treatment, the types of environments where treatment is obtained, the treatments that are most effective, and the consequences of not receiving treatment.” Women in female specific rehab centers will need the kind of treatment that focuses on all of these issues.

Some specific factors important to women’s only substance abuse treatment facilities were discussed before, but it is also important that these facilities focus on all sides of necessary treatment for female patients.

  • The acknowledgement of “the importance and role of socioeconomic issues and differences among women” needs to be addressed as a part of women only substance abuse treatment (NCBI 1). There are similarities in these categories among women, but not all women experienced the same socioeconomic issues. This should be part of treatment so that the women there come to understand one another as well as themselves and their own addictions better.
  • The unique health concerns of women when associated with substance abuse also must be addressed. “Women who abuse substances are more likely to encounter problems associated with reproduction,” as well as to run the risk of getting infectious diseases.
  • Because trauma is so often associated with substance abuse in female patients, a trauma-based perspective should be understood and taught by the staff so that all patients may come to understand it too.

Are All the Treatments the Same in Women Only Substance Abuse Treatment?

Many of the same treatments are used in women only substance abuse treatment from medication to therapy. The difference is in how they are framed and given by the counselors and doctors at the facility as well as the ability for women to attend treatment exclusively with other women so that they can feel their most comfortable among others with common experiences.

Do Women Only Substance Abuse Treatment Centers Work?

According to an NCBI study, “Several qualitative studies… have highlighted that women perceive same-sex or female-only groups as more beneficial than mix-gender groups because they provide women more freedom to talk about difficult topics such as abuse and relationship issues and to focus on themselves.”

In addition, the gender-specific treatments themselves have been proven to be especially effective, as the NCBI states, “In one study comparing women in a female-only program to a mix-gender group, the author concluded that just placing women in a same-sex group without women-specific treatment services is not effective in improving retention or outcome.”

These centers do work and specifically so if the unique needs of female substance abuse patients are considered and targeted before being treated. Women in substance abuse treatment have many needs, some which are similar to those of men and some which are not. The combination of female-only groups and specified treatments are what make women only substance abuse treatment a beneficial option for many women who are seeking help for a substance use disorder.