Women’s Only Drug And Alcohol Rehab Programs

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Women experience unique obstacles when dealing with substance abuse and addiction. Attending a women’s only drug rehab can positively affect treatment outcomes and address women-specific circumstances.

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Women are faced with many responsibilities that can be extremely overwhelming on a daily basis. It is not unusual for a woman to work a full-time job, raise children, and take care of a household, either on their own or without much help. Many feel they are required to do everything with grace and without complaint.

Additionally, women experience addiction in a different way than men, for the most part. Women tend to abuse substances as a way to escape, they are more likely to hide their addiction, and they have trouble entering rehab due to outside responsibilities and societal expectations.

Being in a substance abuse treatment location with other women can be more comforting than a co-ed treatment facility. There is less pressure, less expectations, more solidarity and support.

With so many differences between men and women in relation to addiction, it makes sense to provide substance abuse treatment to men and women separately. This allows drug rehabs to design a substance abuse program that is unique to the demographic receiving treatment.

Drug Abuse And Addiction In Women

Very different factors contribute to addiction in women, when compared to men. The following are just some of the ways that addiction develops, continues, and is treated in women.

Caretaker Roles and Expectations

Women devote a significant amount of time to caring for other people. When asked to describe themselves, many women respond with words such as “mother”, “wife”, “employee”, “housekeeper”, above most other descriptors.

Caretaker roles are time-consuming, and leave little room for other, more enjoyable activities or hobbies. Instead, the limited time can lead to using drugs or alcohol as a way to decompress or enjoy mundane activities.


This term describes the process in which women descent into addiction at a faster rate than men do. Women can consume the same amount of type of drug as men, and develop dependence more quickly, fast tracking to abuse and addiction.

Enjoying the Effects of the Drug

When a woman uses drugs or alcohol as an escape, they may view intoxication as a way to avoid reality. Using substances to lower stress can become a self-medicating cycle that can quickly develop into an addiction.

Relationship Influences

When a woman trusts someone, she may be more inclined to accept if the person offers her drugs or alcohol. The nature of the relationship may directly affect her belief that a drug may not be as terrible as others say it is.

Another factor is that if a person close to a woman, or if they live together, these substances are much more accessible. This can increase the likelihood that she may begin to use these substances more regularly, and telescope into addiction.

Co-occurring Disorders

Many women who abuse or are addicted to substances have a history of trauma, physical abuse, or sexual assault. They are also likely to be self-medicating due to unresolved issues related to depression, anxiety, mood disorders, or managing pain.

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Women’s Only Drug Rehab Treatment Barriers

There are a number of reasons that women don’t enter substance abuse treatment. Many women stand in their own way of seeking rehab, by telling themselves some of the following:

  • “I can’t leave my responsibilities” Many women are under the impression that their home life, or job would completely fall apart if they were to step out to go to drug rehab. And while it may be a fact that things may not get done in the way she would do them, it is not impossible to find someone willing to help while she seeks treatment for addiction.
  • “I don’t have a drug problem” Women are more likely to abuse prescription pills, and use the rationale that because a doctor is giving the drugs to her, she cannot be addicted. Or if she only drinks at the end of the day, she may say she is not an alcoholic.
  • “It’s just to take the edge off” or “It’s been a long day” Making excuses for continued drug or alcohol abuse in relation to stress relief can be an indication that there is a problem, and also serve as a rationalization to not seek treatment.
  • “I would have to tell everyone” Women tend to hide behind the shame of addiction. They do not want to disappoint their loved ones, or let anyone know that they aren’t living up to expectations. They view addiction as a weakness, instead of a treatable disease.
  • “I will lose everything” Entering a substance abuse program may seem like a life sentence for some women. Believing that they may lose their career, children, home, family, friends, or partner may keep them from identifying treatment as an option.

When a woman feels supported by loved ones, she may be willing to let down her guard and take the first steps toward treatment. If there is a women’s only drug rehab available to meet her needs, and understand her unique circumstances, she may be more likely enter treatment.

How Is Women’s Drug Rehab Different?

Removing distractions allows women to focus on themselves. As they gain trust and insight in treatment, they begin to understand the roles placed on them simply because they are women. Discussing these topics may be difficult for women if men are present.

A women’s only rehab is designed to explore these topics without the presence of men, so there is no judgment, real or perceived. During group therapy sessions, women may feel more comfortable discussing past traumas, like sexual abuse, in a room of only women.

Women’s only rehabs also put a number of specific options in place to make treatment a real possibility for women in need of substance abuse treatment, including:

  • transportation
  • child-care
  • children attending treatment with mother
  • strong emotional support
  • co-occurring diagnosis treatment
  • relapse prevention
  • exploring expectations, role stress, and guilt associated with substance abuse
  • teaching coping strategies to address expectations

Women’s Only Drug Rehab Meets Needs Of Women

The concerns that women in drug rehab often bring to the table are much different than those of men in similar situations. Women are concerned with losing custody of their children, their jobs, shaming their family, embarrassment, or even ending up homeless.

Women in rehab benefit from the emotional support from staff and other residents. It has been reported that many women in substance abuse treatment facilities do not receive as much support from family and friends while in treatment, so that role can be filled by the staff and other women in the program.

Offering holistic treatment options in addition to substance abuse interventions can help women address feelings of shame and guilt that are rooted in their addiction. Providing drug rehab treatment without acknowledging the role self-esteem has on addiction, places women at a higher risk for relapse.

A women’s only drug rehab that offers an individualized treatment plan can help get you or your loved one on the right road toward recovery. Contact our staff today so we can assist in your journey.

SAMHSA Treatment Improvement Protocols - Substance Abuse Treatment for Women

Drug and Alcohol Dependence - Substance abuse treatment entry, retention, and outcome in women: A review of the literature

Psychiatric Clinics - Substance Abuse in Women

Journal of Addictive Diseases - Women and Addiction: The Importance of Gender Issues in Substance Abuse Research

Qualitative Health Research - Women with Jagged Edges: Voices from a culture of substance abuse