Women’s Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Why would a womens drug rehab be important? People are people, and drugs and alcohol affect us all in the same way. Right? While that is true to some extent, there are some differences in the way men and women seek treatment, thereby affecting whether they even go for treatment. And you can’t recover if you don’t get treatment.

Many life circumstances prevail in women as a group, which may require a specialized approach to treatment. Some issues unique to women that can affect the treatment process include the question of how they came into treatment, financial independence, and child care.

It is established that women’s substance use is different from men’s and:

  • Women substance users typically have a poorer quality of life than their male counterparts, before and after treatment.
  • A recent report showed that women who had suffered the most extensive forms of physical and sexual violence and abuse were 8 times more likely to become drug dependent than those with little experience of these forms of trauma.
  • Relationships have a greater part to play in women’s drug use. Most women start using drugs with a partner, while men are more likely to start using them with their peers.
  • Women are less likely to seek treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) and more likely than men to face barriers to accessing treatment. Women also tend to look for care in mental health or primary care locations instead of specialized treatment programs. This may be partly responsible for poorer treatment outcomes.
  • Women who have children are afraid of social services involvement with their children.

When gender differences in treatment are reported, though, women appear to do better than men. Research suggests that gender-specific treatment is no more effective than mixed-gender treatment; however, some women may only look for treatment in women-only programs.

Health services should consider:

  1. Improving the care for women who want care in primary care or mental health settings.
  2. Increasing the referral of women to specialized treatment.
  3. Determining groups of women and men who would benefit from gender-specific programs.
  4. Addressing gender-specific risk factors for initiating treatment, continuing treatment, and outcomes of treatment.

The Nature of Women’s Substance Abuse Problems

Research on the ways gender influences substance and substance-abuse-related problems has confirmed clear differences between men and women in several key areas. Women, in general, consume less alcohol than men when they drink. Women drink alcohol less frequently and are less likely to develop alcohol-related problems than men. 

This also holds true for drug use. Women are less likely to use illicit drugs and develop drug-related problems. On the other hand, when women do develop substance abuse problems, they typically develop them faster than men do. This is called telescoping. 

Differences include:

  • Women are less likely than men to use illicit drugs and develop drug-related problems.
  • Women drinkers typically drink less alcohol less often than men and are less likely to develop alcohol-related problems.
  • Women who develop SUDs report more severe problems and experience more health-related consequences.
  • Women’s issues with substance abuse interfere with their functioning in more areas of life than men do.
  • Women tend to be older than men are when they begin drinking to intoxication. Once they begin drinking to intoxication they:
  • Experience drinking-related problems more quickly than men.
  • Lose control of their drinking more quickly than men.
  • Research shows that women’s and men’s substance use patterns have become more similar in the past few years.
  • Women comprise about 1/3 of the population with alcohol problems and slightly less than half of those who have problems with other drugs.

Barriers to Seeking Substance Abuse Treatment

The gender of a person has the potential to affect several important crossroads along the path to getting substance abuse treatment. 

Identifying the problem is the first step to treatment, whether by a family member, an employer, or a healthcare professional. The likelihood that a person’s SUD will be identified seems to differ by gender in some situations. 

These are some of the barriers women typically encounter:

  • Women are more likely than men to come across barriers that keep them from seeking or following through with treatment.
  • Women are more likely to experience economic barriers to treatment.
  • Women are more likely to have difficulty attending regular treatment appointments due to family responsibilities.
  • Women need comprehensive services such as housing, transportation, education, and income support to reduce post-treatment relapses more than men.
  • Women are more likely to report feelings of shame and embarrassment because they are in substance abuse treatment.
  • Depressive disorders and anxiety, which tend to be more common and severe among women, may actually prevent women from getting help with SUDs.
  • Women from ethnic groups may confront cultural barriers, such as language problems.
  • Older women are more likely than younger women to encounter physicians who don’t believe substance abuse treatment is effective for them.

Gender Differences in Treatment

Research has found that women who seek treatment for alcohol or other drug problems have more severe problems, are younger, and have lower education levels than men. Additionally:

  • Women are more likely to have experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
  • Women have more severe depressive symptoms when depressed.
  • Women have more physical and mental health problems than men.
  • Women tend to be more hostile upon entering treatment.
  • Women entering for drinking-related problems identify other factors such as stressful life events and mental health symptoms as their primary problem.

Treatment Outcomes

Because of the traits of women with substance abuse problems and the barriers to the treatment they face, some people have suggested that women would be less likely to find, begin, and complete treatment.

This would lead to worse long-term outcomes. But that is not the case because:

  • Recent studies show that gender either did not affect starting treatment except to show that women are more likely than men to initiate treatment.
  • Women now seem to be at least as likely as men to participate in and complete treatment.
  • Men and women are equally likely to complete treatment, but women who do are 9 times more likely to be abstinent than women who don’t. Men who complete treatment were only 3 times more likely to be abstinent than men who do not.
  • Current research found that women’s treatment outcomes are as good as, or better than men’s.
  • Women in substance abuse treatment are less likely to relapse than men. When women relapse, the reasons are likely to be different than men’s:
  • Women are more likely to relapse if their life partners are substance abusers.
  • They are more likely to indicate personal problems before relapsing.
  • Women who have been in treatment have better long-term recovery outcomes than men.

The Dual Diagnosis Issue

Women are more likely to have co-occurring substance use and mental health conditions. They are more prone to meet the criteria for mood disorders, depression, agoraphobia, PTSD, anxiety, and eating disorders. 

Women are also likely to have been sexually and physically abused. 

These experiences have an impact on the type of services they need in recovery, including trauma-based programs that treat addiction alongside mental health conditions. 

Trauma-specific programs recognize the relationship between trauma and symptoms of trauma, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.


Women are more stigmatized for substance use conditions. They have higher feelings of guilt and shame because of their substance use, which are often related to the gender-specific roles frequently associated with caregivers. 

Women also tend to have one parent who has had problems with substance use. This may be a factor in the development of an addiction. A women’s drug rehab specifically acknowledges these differences. 

Why Gender-Specific Programs Work

While looking at the life histories of addicted women, there are two elements that women share in addition to their dependence on substances:

  • The lack of healthy relationships
  • The experience of trauma

These elements create many issues that need to be considered when a woman enters recovery.

Looking For Treatment?

There are significant differences in SUD rates between men and women. These differences range from more access and opportunities for use to increased social pressure and a greater genetic disposition to use substances. 

Men and women might find out that they benefit from having gender-specific programs available to them. Men and women do better in treatment and continuing care when the treatment is customized for their particular needs.

If you need to find treatment for yourself, your daughter, niece, or any woman in your life, you should consider treatment programs that are tailored to women’s needs. A women’s drug rehab understands the impediments they experience. 

Services provided in substance abuse treatment should include women-only programs (due to trauma history and other issues). There should be strong female leaders and providers, peer support groups, and cultural programs that speak to the unique needs of women in treatment.

Customize a Program at Unity Behavioral Health

Our women’s drug rehab is just one treatment plan out of the wide range of programs that can be tailored to your requirements. From Residential to Outpatient programs, we can offer an individualized treatment for anyone. You will have counselors and staff that are caring and professional who will treat you with respect. 

Our facilities are in Martin and Palm Beach Counties in Florida and offer a tranquil tropical setting for you to heal and find peace with yourself.    

You have probably been waiting to make this decision, and we understand that. It’s always difficult to make a change. But the benefits are immeasurable, so check us out. Contact us here. You have everything to gain.







Get Help Now

Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.


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