Women’s need for treatment usually come from an internal or subjective stress as opposed to external pressures. The overwhelming majority of women with substance use disorders (SUDs) – upwards of 95 percent – report at least one incident of significant trauma in their past, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse as a child, rape, or some type of domestic violence. These traumatic events are often closely linked with the reasons women develop addiction issues and co-occurring mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. When women experience a sustained period of sobriety, they begin to make connections between their history of trauma, co-occurring disorders, and how and why they developed alcohol or substance use disorders. Our addiction treatment program for women provides an integrative approach to help women heal their mind, body, and spirit.
Women are less likely than men to access treatment over a lifetime.
Women have more psychiatric and social consequences because they seek care for SUDs in health and mental health service sectors.
Ethnicity, employment, pregnancy or fear of losing custody of children, fear of prosecution, and economic status.
Women are less likely to have family or partner support, and greater stigma and discrimination.
We provide women with a women-only clinical environment and residences to help them feel safe while addressing their issues. Some of the reasons for women-specific and separate treatment include:
The Women, Co-Occurring Disorders and Violence Study (WCDVS), a multisite cooperative study, provides evidence that comprehensive integrated services may offer more effective treatment for women with co-occurring substance and psychiatric disorders and histories of victimization.
Patients in women-only programs experience less exposure to sexual harassment and find the atmosphere to be more conducive to the open expression of women’s needs and experiences.
Our addiction treatment program for women provides an integrative approach to help women heal their mind, body, and spirit. Our gender responsive, integrative treatment model goes beyond the fundamentals of abstinence and 12-step meetings to address seven additional core aspects of recovery:
To learn more about these foundational tenets of our approach to treatment, read about our Integrative Health treatment model for a detailed description of our principles and how we apply them every day at Lakeview Health.
The simple answer is this: when women participate in gender-specific treatment programs, they tend to stay in treatment longer and according to research that women experience better outcomes in gender-specific treatment. It’s well-documented fact that the longer a patient stays in treatment, the less likely they are to relapse. Therefore, gender-specific programs can reduce relapse rates and increase the chance of lifelong, sustained sobriety. But that’s true for both men and women – so what is it about gender-specific treatment that causes women to stay in treatment longer?
A Safe Space to Address Trauma and Co-Occurring Disorders
Traumatic events are often closely linked with the reasons women develop addiction issues and co-occurring mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. When women go through detox and experience a sustained period of sobriety, they begin to make connections between three interrelated issues: their history of trauma, co-occurring disorders, and how and why they developed alcohol or substance use disorders.
We give women a safe, nurturing, and empowering environment to explore these the correlation of issues, and the result is we see the lightbulb moment almost every day. While everyone is different, and not every woman develops addictions for the same reasons, the pattern of these breakthrough moments generally looks like this:
A female patient discusses a past traumatic experience. She pauses, then says, “That probably explains why I withdrew from my family and got so depressed, and… that probably explains why I started drinking when I was 15. And that… well… that’s why I’m here today.”
When women make these connections, they feel like they’re making progress, which causes them to value the rehab experience and stay in treatment longer. Historically, addiction treatment has focused more on immediate need – achieving abstinence – than healing past traumatic experiences or identifying co-occurring disorders. Because trauma and co-occurring disorders are so prevalent among women with substance use disorders, our women’s treatment program prioritizes a trauma-informed, dual diagnosis approach to recovery. To postpone addressing issues surrounding trauma and co-occurring disorders is to ignore the reality of women’s experiences in addiction, so we don’t. We give women the support they need to work on all the issues standing between them and sustained sobriety.
Our clinical team meets regularly to discuss their experiences working with our patients. Therapists in our women’s program observe that when men aren’t present, women are more likely to:
These factors lead to a more authentic, vulnerable, and productive atmosphere than commonly found in co-ed process groups. In the absence of men, women dive deep into issues related to addiction, such as relationships, family, body image, and self-esteem. There’s also the fact that women’s only treatment groups remove the potential romantic distractions presented by members of the opposite sex.
Gender Differences in Substance Use and Addiction Treatment
Research indicates significant differences in the types of drugs women use and how they use them. For instance, statistics show women are more likely to:
Alcohol addiction creates a specific set of problems for women. Women who abuse alcohol are at elevated risk of:
Women are more likely to avoid treatment for fear of:
These factors are compounded by the social stigma attached to women who enter alcohol or drug rehab. Women are less likely to have the support of their families and partners when they seek and/or enter treatment. Whereas men are often considered to be brave for entering treatment, women are often considered weak for seeking the same help. Add to this the near-absurd number of memes floating around social media normalizing the idea that motherhood requires substance abuse – think of how many variations of Mommy Needs Her Wine you may see in a single day – and it’s easy to understand why women might choose to struggle in silence rather than get the help they need.
Contemporary theories regarding women’s psychological development recognize a guiding principle in growth for women is the need to establish deep and meaningful connections with others. Dr. Jean Miller and Dr. Stephanie Covington, pioneers in women’s issues and the field of gender-responsive treatment, emphasize women derive much of their identity, self-worth, and self-esteem from building deep connections both inside and outside the family. Strong, healthy relationships lead to greater vitality and an increased sense of empowerment. These types of relationships are based on empathy and mutuality – the idea that each person in the relationship can be completely open and honest with their innermost feelings, and equally open and honest with their feedback for the other person. When mutuality and empathy exist, women can influence one another and help one another to grow, learn, and move forward.
That’s exactly what happens at The Rose: women come together and help one another. They’ll show up at a group session sweaty in their workout clothes, no makeup, hair all tangled, and dive right into deep explorations of the issues before them. Surrounded by their sisters in recovery, women develop the tools they need to achieve sobriety, embrace recovery, and live a life without alcohol and drugs.
If you’re a woman thinking about entering treatment, please call us today. There’s an amazing group of strong and courageous women waiting for you right now, working through some of the same issues you’re struggling with, and they’re ready to welcome you with open arms.
In the past decade, surveys of women in recovery from substance use disorders have shown that emotional and physical trauma are significant contributing factors to addiction in women. Although numbers vary because of differences in the definition of trauma, most studies have found between 70 and 90 percent of women in addiction treatment have experienced at least one significant traumatic event in their past, including abuse as a child, domestic abuse, and sexual assault.
Given that trauma is so frequently associated with substance abuse disorders in women, many have begun to question an approach addressing one while ignoring the other. If trauma is a factor leading women into addiction as a way of numbing the emotional pain, then treating addiction without taking trauma into account could be counter-productive. It would be like treating the symptoms of a disease without doing anything about the disease itself.
The Rose of Lakeview is designed to give women a safe space to deal with past trauma. The women’s trauma recovery program ensures treatment is completely gender separate, providing an environment where women can discuss their emotional pain openly. And, because women’s trauma is frequently caused by male aggressors, the gender separation protects them from triggers hindering their recovery.
Modalities used to treat trauma in The Rose of Lakeview include Seeking Safety, EMDR, coping skills, and various psychoeducational classes. In cases where a patient’s trauma overshadows our ability to help her, a clinical recommendation will be made to refer her to a facility that can better treat the trauma. Additionally, we teach grounding techniques that can contain certain trauma issues until the patient leaves treatment and is placed with an outpatient program capable of deeply addressing the patient’s trauma. Facilities at the Women’s Center were created to compliment trauma treatment. Warm, quiet, low-energy spaces were designed to help women feel safe and ready to open up.
The treatment team at our women-only program comprises psychological counselors and a medical staff trained to diagnose and treat co-occurring disorders accompanying drug and alcohol addiction. Because we have our own on-site detox, women are under the care of both medical and clinical health providers from the moment they enter our facility. This comprehensive care contributes to recovery and the overall health of each patient.
Diagnosing co-occurring disorders takes knowledge and experience. In the early stages of detox, doctors must determine whether problems like anxiety or depression are pre-existing conditions separate from substance abuse, or are symptoms caused by drug and alcohol use. Some co-occurring disorders are recognized immediately, while others can only be diagnosed once the patient has completed detox and is free of her drug of choice. Because of our integrated medical and clinical teams work together throughout each patient’s treatment, the chances of identifying co-occurring problems are greatly increased.
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