For many years, professionals believed that women with substance abuse problems have lower chances of recovery compared to men. But, there was very limited evidence available regarding the issue due to the fact all research about substance abuse treatment prior to 1990s only involved male subjects. The only studies that involved both men and women did not take into consideration the possible impact of gender differences.
In the early 1990s, the situation made a drastic change after the FDA and the National Institutes of Health issued guidelines, which focused on increasing the representation of both women and minorities in research studies. One review in Drug and Alcohol Dependence revealed that women have equal capacity of recovering just as much as men. But, women still face a number of unique challenges. Vizown shares more information below:
Gaining Access to Treatments
Numerous studies conclude that there are fewer women who enter recovery centers for substance abuse issues compared to men, including those that involve alcohol. The reason behind this remains unclear, but there seem to be a number of treatment barriers that affect women more often than men. These include the following:
- Access to Childcare – Before they can undergo treatment, mothers need to secure appropriate childcare services for their children. Many of them are highly concernec about losing custody of their children once their alcohol problem has been revealed.
- Mental Health Problems – Compared to men, women have higher chances of suffering from anxiety, mood, and eating disorders. These may also be addressed when treated at the same time as the substance abuse disorder. But, only a few substance abuse treatment programs have adequate access to psychiatric disorder treatments.
- Economic Problems – Women have a higher tendency to face economic challenges, such as lower-paying jobs with limited flexibility in scheduling.
- Lack of Women-only Treatment Programs – These are highly recommend for women compared to mixed-gender programs, especially for those who have suffered physical or sexual abuse.
Even if women are hesitant to traditional treatment programs, they should look for both medical and emotional support from other resources. There are self-help groups and psychotherapy that can help them address their problems. Still, the most effective way is to get a treatment program specifically designed for their case.