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Drug Rehab For Women

Even though women tend to use drugs and alcohol less frequently than men, they are equally prone to addiction. Women-focused rehabilitation centers provide customized programs, including parenting workshops and assistance with domestic abuse issues.

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Drug and Alcohol Rehab for Women

Women and men tend to use drugs and alcohol for vastly different reasons and in significantly different ways. While women may be less likely to use drugs and alcohol in general than men, they are just as likely to become addicted to them and develop a dependency or substance use disorder.

If women need to seek professional treatment for substance abuse, they may find that they heal best in an environment that is exclusive to women. Treatment options in addiction treatment centers for women may include traditional services like detox, family therapy, and group therapy, with additional services tailored to women and mothers—such as parenting classes and domestic violence support.

How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Affects Women

Women experience drugs differently than men because of biological differences, such as hormones, and may also use them differently because of their unique social and cultural roles.

Despite this difference, men and women become addicted to substances at roughly the same rate, though it may take less substance use initially before a woman becomes addicted.

Even though women and men are equally prone to addiction, women spend shorter periods of time remaining sober, have stronger cravings, and are more likely to relapse. These effects indicate that women may have more difficulty achieving long-term recovery and sobriety.

Women may also be less likely to seek treatment in the first place, especially women who are also mothers and who fear legal repercussions or losing custody of their children.

Because of these factors and other challenges that women face while in recovery, women need access to alcohol and drug rehab programs that are specialized for them.

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Scope of Substance Abuse in Women

Even though women use and abuse substances less than men in general, adult women still make up a large portion of the population battling substance abuse.

Statistics related to substance abuse and women include:

  • 17% of females, compared to 22% of males, reported using illegal drugs or misusing prescriptions within the past year.
  • Women make up only 20% of individuals who are in substance abuse treatment at any given time.
  • 5% of women report a substance use disorder with both illicit drugs and alcohol simultaneously.
  • Women most commonly abuse substances are alcohol, stimulants like cocaine or Adderall, and prescription medications like opioids or benzodiazepines.
  • The age group of 12-17 is the only age group during which substance use is higher among females than males.
  • About a third of high school-aged females report thoughts of suicide.

Various factors contribute to these statistics. For example, females are more likely to abuse substances alone or with their intimate partner, while men are more likely to abuse substances around their male friends.

Risk Factors for Addiction Issues in Women

Some women are more likely to use substances and become addicted to them because of multiple factors in their lives.

Risk factors for addiction issues in women include:

  • Mental health issues: Women with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders may be more likely to self-medicate with substances.
  • Exposure to trauma: Women who have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse may be more likely to turn to substances as a coping mechanism.
  • Relationship issues: Women facing difficulties in their relationships with partners, family members, or friends may turn to substances as a means of escape.
  • Parenting and child custody concerns: Women who are responsible for children may be more likely to develop addiction issues due to stress, fear of losing custody, or the desire to numb emotional pain.
  • Socioeconomic factors: Women experiencing poverty or homelessness may be more vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction due to lacking resources and support.
  • Lack of social support: Women who feel isolated or unsupported may be more susceptible to addiction.

Additionally, women may be at an increased risk if they are using drugs or alcohol for reasons such as controlling their weight or for coping with exhaustion and fatigue.

Signs of Substance Abuse in Women

Signs of substance abuse can vary from woman to woman and will also depend heavily on the type of drug or substance she is abusing.

Some common signs of substance abuse in women include:

  • Changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and physical appearance
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Changes in personality and behavior, such as lack of motivation, irritability, and agitation
  • Inability to stop using the drug
  • Spending excessive time thinking about or seeking out drugs
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Trouble with daily activities and maintaining responsibilities
  • Borrowing or stealing money to pay for drugs
  • Developing a tolerance and taking more of the substance to achieve the same effects
  • Experiencing pregnancy complications

If someone you love shows any signs or symptoms of substance abuse, talk to them about your concerns, and tell them about addiction recovery programs for women.

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Effects of Substance Abuse in Women

The effects of substance abuse can be detrimental for women, extending into all areas of their lives, including work, school, and personal relationships.

Some of the effects of substance abuse on women can include: 

  • Mental health: Substance abuse can exacerbate existing mental health issues or lead to the development of new ones.
  • Parenting and child custody concerns: Substance abuse can negatively affect parenting abilities and may lead to losing child custody.
  • Pregnancy complications: Substance use during pregnancy can result in low birth weight, premature birth, or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Employment and financial struggles: Substance abuse can lead to job loss and financial instability, further affecting addiction-related issues.
  • Relationship issues: Addiction can strain relationships with romantic partners, family members, and friends.

What to Expect in Addiction Treatment Programs for Women

The right rehab program can help women manage substance use issues, seek lasting recovery, and prevent future relapse. Accredited rehab programs and those with relevant certifications and memberships may offer the most effective care.

Here are some of the services and programs you may find in women-only rehab centers or treatment centers that offer women’s rehab programs.

Women-Only Inpatient Rehab

With gender-separate inpatient or residential rehab, women live with other women in a treatment facility and attend group therapy and other types of supportive services together.

Being separated from the opposite sex is crucial for some women to be able to heal properly, especially those who have recently been exposed to domestic violence or abuse of any kind.

Inpatient treatment generally begins with a period of medically monitored detoxification. After detox, the woman can begin attending individual therapy and other types of treatment alongside other women who are also in addiction treatment.

Gender-Separate Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment can also exist in a gender-separate format, where women meet exclusively with other women to participate in group therapy and peer support groups.

Women can also participate in medical detox and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in an outpatient setting if that is more convenient for them.

Additionally, outpatient addiction treatment also includes intensive outpatient programs (IOP), during which people attend individual counseling and other services with greater frequency and intensity.

Childcare and Family Services

Women can often bring their children with them during addiction treatment, including in residential treatment programs.

These programs may have age limits on the children that can attend, and women will likely be limited in the number of children they can bring with them.

In some instances, these rehab centers will also provide counseling and therapy services to the children in attendance as well.

Holistic Therapies

Holistic therapies are often incorporated into treatment plans at women’s rehab centers, in addition to evidence-based therapies that make up the core of addiction therapy.

The types of holistic therapies offered will vary at each treatment center but can include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Adventure Therapy
  • Art And Music Therapy
  • Animal Therapy
  • Equine Therapy

Parenting Education

Women’s rehab centers often include parenting education training and classes as an optional service for individuals in attendance who are also mothers.

Parenting classes focus on finding solutions to common problems, controlling anger and other intense emotions, and using positive body language and tone of voice.

While these types of classes may not be for everyone, they can help provide important tools and skills to make parenting easier and more enjoyable for both parent and child.

Women’s Recovery Support Groups

Recovery support groups are an essential part of any addiction treatment program. They allow for a safe environment where women can share their stories and feel empowered and supported by other women in similar situations.

Women’s recovery support groups also provide accountability, which is important as women progress through their programs, and even more so after they finish.

Some women enjoy recovery support groups through 12-step programs, which offer a spiritual component to addiction recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

It is typical for a substance use disorder to co-occur along with another mental health or behavioral health disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.

In fact, co-occurring mental health disorders are more common in females who are living with addiction than men.

Treatment services included in dual diagnosis treatment are different types of behavioral therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

Sober Living and Aftercare

After successfully completing an inpatient program, women will need a safe and sober environment to return to.

Having a safe place to stay helps prevent relapse and allows women to continue healing around other women in similar situations who are also dedicated to remaining sober.

How to Work Through Substance Use Issues With Women

Helping a loved one work through their substance abuse issues is never easy and can be especially difficult when it is a woman with a family and children.

When approaching your loved one, always be mindful of your tone of voice, body language, and overall approach and choice of words.

Tips for talking to your loved one about substance abuse:

  1. Plan what you want to say in advance.
  2. Enlist the support of friends or family and ask them to join you if appropriate.
  3. Choose the right time and place for the conversation.
  4. Have a list of potential rehab centers that you have already researched.
  5. Practice what you will say first to another friend or family member.
  6. Prepare for multiple possible reactions from your loved one.

You should always encourage your loved one to seek the support of professionals for addiction treatment, and you may even want to suggest a gender-specific program to them.

Be prepared to face potential backlash and negativity from your loved one, as they may disagree with you about their need for professional treatment.

Benefits of Addiction Treatment for Women

For women who are looking to improve their lives and get back on a healthy and more productive life path, professional addiction treatment can truly be a life-changing experience.

Some of the benefits of substance abuse treatment for women include:

  • Improved physical health: Addiction treatment helps women recover from the physical effects of substance abuse, leading to better overall health and a reduced risk of serious health complications.
  • Better parenting skills: Treatment programs often provide parenting education and support, empowering women to become more effective and nurturing caregivers to their children.
  • Increased self-esteem: Addiction treatment helps women build self-confidence and self-worth, leading to a more positive self-image and a stronger sense of purpose.
  • Greater financial stability: Overcoming addiction can improve employment opportunities and financial security, reducing the stress associated with financial struggles.
  • Reduced risk of relapse: Comprehensive addiction treatment equips women with the tools and strategies they need to maintain long-term sobriety and prevent relapse.
  • Expanded support network: Treatment programs connect women with support groups and other resources, fostering a sense of community and reducing feelings of isolation.
  • Legal benefits: Addressing addiction through treatment can help women avoid or mitigate legal consequences, such as arrests, fines, and incarceration.

Overall, addiction treatment can significantly improve a woman’s well-being and quality of life, providing her with the foundation for a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling future.

Cost of Women’s Rehab Programs

No woman should ever have to forego the treatment that she needs out of fear of high costs and expenses.

Fortunately, drug and alcohol rehab programs are often more affordable than people realize and can even sometimes be free with certain insurance providers or other types of financial assistance.

Rehab Insurance Coverage

Women who are pregnant, a caregiver to any children under 18, disabled, or who have an income below a certain threshold may apply for state-funded insurance in the form of Medicaid.

Similar to Medicaid but for senior citizens, Medicare is also available as state-funded insurance to women over the age of 65.

Those with access to private healthcare insurance either through their employer or their own funding may also use these options.

Payment Plans at Women’s Rehab Centers

Payment plans are one type of financial assistance that can make alcohol and drug rehab more affordable for women and others.

Payment plans allow people to pay in small increments over a period of time, as opposed to in one large lump sum. Alcohol and drug rehab centers may or may not charge interest on these plans, so checking in advance is a good idea.

Some rehab centers also accept grants or scholarships as a form of payment or offer their own scholarships and discounts to individuals who fit certain criteria.

Barriers to Addiction Treatment for Women

It is never easy to seek professional substance abuse treatment, but this decision can be even more difficult for some women if certain barriers are in place.

Some of the barriers that prevent women from seeking addiction treatment include:

  • Social stigma: Women often face a greater degree of social stigma associated with substance abuse, making them hesitant to seek help.
  • Fear of losing custody of children: Women with children may avoid seeking treatment out of fear of losing custody or being deemed unfit mothers.
  • Fear of judgment from family and friends: Women may be concerned about the reactions of their loved ones and hesitate to seek help.
  • Mental health stigma: Women with co-occurring mental health disorders may hesitate to seek treatment due to the stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Financial barriers: Women may face economic challenges that make it difficult for them to afford treatment or take time off work to attend a program.
  • Shame and guilt: Women may feel ashamed or guilty about their addiction, potentially preventing them from seeking the help they need.

With help from loved ones and more awareness about specialized programs for women and mothers, more women can get the help that they need and deserve.

Resources for Women Seeking Addiction Treatment

The following organizations support women in their recovery by providing various assistive resources and types of aid.

Resources for women seeking addiction treatment include:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): This governmental website provides a treatment center locator, a grant finder, and numerous other vital resources about substance abuse and mental health.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: This is a 24/7 free and private helpline for victims of domestic violence, either male or female.
  • 988 Suicide Crisis and Lifeline: Women can call this 24/7 free and confidential hotline if they are experiencing a crisis of any kind or thinking about suicide.
  • She Recovers Foundation: This non-profit foundation provides resources to women as they recover from substance abuse, trauma, grief, or other mental health issues. It also provides online meetings and support groups.
  • Women for Sobriety: This non-profit organization provides both in-person and online meetings for women in recovery to share and support each other.

For local drug and alcohol abuse resources, women can also check with their health care provider, primary care physician, or any medical professional they feel comfortable speaking to.

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Find Help for Women With Addiction

Women who are living with alcohol or drug addiction should know that help is available without the need for fear of barriers.

When you are ready to begin looking for a recovery center in your area, visit findtreatment.gov and search by city, state, or facility type.

Recovery is possible, and there is hope for you and your family. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions that you have about substance abuse and mental health.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of AddictionHelp.com and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Addressing the Specific Needs of Women for Treatment of Substance Use Disorders. (2021). Advisory. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/pep20-06-04-002.pdf
  2. Hecksher, D., & Hesse, M. (2009). Women and substance use disorders. Mens sana monographs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151455/
  3. Sinha, R. (2009, August 26). Chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/
  4. Substance abuse and addiction statistics [2023]. NCDAS. (2023, January 1). https://drugabusestatistics.org/
  5. Talking with your loved one about substance abuse. SMART Recovery. (2017, March 21). https://www.smartrecovery.org/talking-with-your-loved-one-about-substance-abuse/
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022, May 4). Sex and gender differences in substance use. National Institutes of Health. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/sex-gender-differences-in-substance-use
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, February 24). Substance use in women drugfacts. National Institutes of Health. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-women

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