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Addiction Recovery for Women: How It Differs From Men


Sober Recovery Expert Author

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The effects that addiction has on both men and women cannot be overlooked. The consequences of addiction pose serious health problems to everyone irrespective of gender, age and background. There are, however, specific issues faced by women in addiction, treatment and recovery that men aren’t as prone to.

For example, according to many substance abuse professionals, women tend to get addicted to substances faster than men. This tends to make women more vulnerable. The factors that predispose women into alcohol or drug abuse are also different compared to men. Women tend to use drugs to counter psychological and emotional issues while men are more likely to cope with behavioral issues, amplify positive moods and counter social problems.

Women experience different things than men when it comes to addiction recovery.

Biological Factors

The role of biology in the development of addiction is very wide, especially for women. For instance, women usually get drunk after smaller amounts of alcohol compared to men. Also, factors like certain metabolizing enzymes and less total body water make women have higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood after drinking equal amounts of alcohol as their men counterparts.

Women are also at risk of specific physical consequences that do not seem to affect men as much. For instance, the likelihood of developing depression, a heart attack, victimization and post-traumatic stress disorder is higher for women, so adding alcohol or drugs to the mix can really cause the numbers for women suffering to rise over men.

Women's mental health, hormones, physiology and life circumstances also affect their experience in addiction and recovery. The progress of chemical dependence as well as the consequences of addiction happens faster for women compared to men. Women with chemical addiction may also experience cross-addictions like sex, food, nicotine, money and gambling.

Getting Help

When it comes to the consequences of substance abuse, women tend to experience serious medical, social and psychiatric consequences faster than men. By the time they get to rehab, their symptoms may be as severe as men's despite being addicted for shorter periods and using smaller amounts.

Research concludes that addicted women are less likely to seek help. Concerns such as lack of support, heightened stigma of being a female addict, home and work responsibilities, cost and child-care arrangements are the major hurdles women face.

Treatment and recovery for women become more successful when these specific needs are addressed. Research also shows that women tend to have an upper hand in treatment and recovery in the long run. Once they make the decision to get help, they tend to really make the effort to heal and get their lives back together. Lastly, when a woman relapses, her relapse tends to be shorter than a man’s and she usually gets back into treatment sooner.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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