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Substance Abuse in Pregnancy

The severity of the trauma the women disclosed was unexpectedly challenging for non-clinical service providers. Participants and service providers mostly found the research study and the service was a positive experience, especially the street sex worker-only environment. When the women disclosed their traumatic experiences, this was challenging for drug group facilitators and non-clinical staff who didn’t have experience of managing trauma. These staff would need more support if the new service continued. In the past substance abuse has been thought of as a principally male issue. As mothers these women also had to deal with the all too real implications of reports from treatment services to family services regarding both their accommodation issues and their substance use.

SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. Find treatment facilities and programs in the United States or U.S. Al-Anon family groups provide understanding, strength and hope to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking. Frank provides information https://sober-home.org/ and advice on drugs to anyone concerned about drugs and solvent misuse, including people misusing drugs, their families, friends and carers. If your mental health team have said they can’t help you then you can ask them what their reasons are. You may then be able to use this to show you are eligible for their support.

How Women Differ from Men in Drug and Alcohol Abuse – and How This Impacts on Treatment

These aren’t recommended as a replacement to conventional therapy and rehabilitation, but many women do find that these activities help to calm their minds when confronted by triggers for their substance use. While in rehab, you will be encouraged to practice self-care and introspection, so that you can learn to deal with daily stresses without needing to fall back into your addiction. What’s more, these centres often have prescription medications available that can ease the distressing withdrawal symptoms, and being in the centre means that you don’t need to manage the prescriptions on your own. For example, it has been found2that women are less likely to abuse drugs than men are, but can become addicted to drugs much more easily. Detoxing from alcohol without medical assistance is life-threatening.

  • Shame, stigma, and fear of legal and social repercussions (e.g., child protection involvement) are major barriers impacting on treatment-seeking for women.
  • The women in this study were at different stages in their reproductive lifespan.
  • The long-term effects of alcohol also depend on how much you drink, and how regularly you drink it.
  • Many of the issues described above may pose challenges for women in their efforts to achieve recovery, though many of these are common also to men (Neale et al., 2014).
  • These were system-related, socio-cultural sitemap, and emotional barriers.

Taken together these made it difficult to access the information available, and then to understand what this meant for them specifically. The aim of this study was to address this gap in lived experience perspectives on the barriers to AOD treatment faced by women with addiction and homelessness. Having considered the women’s self-reported health and experiences of their bodies and ageing in recovery, the next section explores trauma as felt and embodied by the women. The women likened their painful bodies to old bodies and recovering bodies. Lorna, who stopped using illicit drugs at age 35 and Shona, who stopped at age 48 both described their drug-free bodies as “old.” Applying Leder’s hypothesis, their ageing, recovering bodies seized the women’s attention.

Women with children may avoid treatment because they have fears about being judged as being an unfit parent because of their use of drugs. Also, many women have experienced initimate partner violence or been exploited sexually, and both factors make the male-dominated treatment environment difficult places to be. This has clear health implications because using drugs frequently or in high quantities is often a risk factor for developing a range of physical and mental health problems. With several decades of scientific research behind us, we have an increasingly clear picture of the biological and societal pressures that compel men and women towards substance abuse and addiction. With much of the research on the subject provided by the Harvard Medical School, we have real evidence in the following areas of how we differ in our experience.


This discrepancy suggests that when provided with a space in which they do not experience fear of punitive state systems or ongoing stigmatization, they feel comfortable discussing their experiences and the potential issues they are facing. These findings show that older women in recovery from drug use can experience menstrual, peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms that feel, to them, similar to the effects of narcotic drugs and drug withdrawal. Together, these produce a double barrier to care, as women and care providers both make sense of menstrual, peri- and menopausal symptoms through both a substance use and wider psychogenetic lens. Leder’s concept of dys-appearing bodies is a useful tool that can provide a phenomenological understanding of women’s embodied experiences of drug use and recovery through the temporal phase of mid-life. Leder’s theory looks at the human body as a lived structure that is central to our lived experience. The lived body is an embodied self that “lives and breathes, perceives and acts, speaks and reasons” [, p. 6].

women drug addiction

Learn about drug and alcohol rehab treatment options that specifically meet the needs of women. Rehab 4 Addiction is able to recommend a number of effective treatments to assist you or your loved one. If you are addicted to substances such as heroin, cocaine or prescription drugs, then we can help you select drug rehab that’s suited to your needs. But Lara is in a radically more positive place now than that she found herself in while in the depths of addiction, even winning a volunteer of the year award. She now lives in her own flat – just five minutes away from the beach – and mentors women who have experienced domestic abuse, sexual violence, and drug addiction, as well as helping those who were living on the streets during the pandemic.

QMJC September 2022: Ethnography and recovery houses

Strong ‘through-care’ arrangements, linking prisoners into community services on their release. The authors identified a total of 24 studies from ten countries, providing a total sample of 18,388 individuals. Two-fifths of participants were from the USA, and two-thirds were men.

By comparing pathways into and out of drug use for men and women, the researchers argue that gender-based assumptions miss factors that could be significant, such as sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status and ethnicity. The McCann family provide an excellent backdrop to a rigorous and well designed treatment programme. Knowing the family are there reassures that the centre has integrity and strong foundations. Three female residents in Castle Craig’s Serenity House talk about how women’s therapy has helped them open up more in therapy sessions. Women’s Group provides a safe and comfortable setting for women in recovery to open up and share stories and feelings that they may otherwise keep hidden.

If your needs are too complicated for your GP to deal with alone, you might need more specialist support. A GP can refer you to your local mental health service or community mental health team . In this section we have listed some of the different types of substances that could have an impact on your mental health. If you use alcohol or drugs for a long time it can cause serious issues for your mental well-being. Drugs can make you more unwell and more likely to try and harm yourself or take your own life. People use drugs and drink alcohol for lots of different reasons.

Women were recruited through the service’s networks and by approaching service providers and clinicians. Potential participants were asked to speak with the research staff directly to express their interest in participating. Following receipt of an expression of interest, research staff provided potential participants with relevant information and documentation. This process was facilitated by the rapport developed between housing service staff and participants and included addressing practical issues such as access to telephones and internet.

women drug addiction

A common scenario amongst the women we spoke with is laid out as an example. Their roles as mothers and carers meant that inpatient or residential options were not practical. They may receive an opportunity to engage in outpatient sessions, however this can be reliant on their locale and the need for a fixed address to be waitlisted.

In some areas, men are almost expected to have a reckless, devil may care attitude, but it sometimes doesn’t seem the same for women. They say men find it hard to talk about their feelings and admit they have problems. This may be one of the reasons why a greater proportion of men than women not only use drugs but fall into addiction.

They were all diagnosed with PTSD and so took part in the trauma therapy phase of treatment. The women’s attendance at drug groups and trauma sessions was a bit patchy but this was mainly to do with the issues the service sought to address – problematic drug use, sex work, and poor mental health – rather than the service itself. This combination of trauma and stigma means they typically don’t benefit as much from treatment services. We developed a plan to specifically target the stigma and trauma in sex workers’ drug treatment, to improve their results. Plus, the ever-increasing women of all ages self-medicating with booze and drugs because of underlying mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

Health and Bodies in Recovery—Temporality and Power

“My addiction was a full time job, so I treat my recovery the same, because without recovery I have nothing,” she explained. It was there that she was introduced to Moving On In My Recovery, which has been credited with helping hundreds of people across North Wales achieve a sustained recovery from addiction. “I learnt very quickly to do whatever I was told and keep my mouth shut. The next few years I spent every day injecting drugs, selling drugs, shoplifting, picking up parcels and whatever else I was told to do. We had armed police busts, but if the dealers were caught, there was always others to replace them.

  • Stopping drugs was hard but even when I stopped drugs I continued those behaviours at periods you know here and there.
  • In one example a participant describes feeling shame and embarrassment regarding her circumstances .
  • Intersectional stigma posits that individuals may experience stigma resulting from the dynamic interaction of multiple marginalized social identities .
  • For example, giving more trauma stabilisation sessions before PTSD treatment, as the impact of drug use and sex working on the women’s lives made them less ready to cope with trauma treatment.
  • Because of how taxing drugs and alcohol can be on the body, the detoxification process can be very difficult.

Cocaine – Women are more sensitive to cocaine’s impact on the heart and vessels. Due to estrogen, cocaine has a greater effect on the reward centers in the female brain. However, women users display fewer irregularities in blood flow in the brain’s eco sober house boston frontal area. In the instance that traditional literacy was sufficient to access service information, participants reported that they just did not know where or how to obtain information that could assist in their accessing treatment.

The wider literature suggests women access services at reduced levels compared to their male counterparts and those who experience homelessness are further restricted in their capacity to access treatment services. To explore the intersection of gender and homelessness as a barrier to addiction treatment, we recruited seven women with lived experience of addiction treatment who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness to participate in a focus group. Our findings are presented in two parts, the output of the digital scribe and the themes identified via framework analysis. Whilst these were separated for presentation, it is of note that our discussion is reflective of the interconnection between the practical barriers identified, the emotional experiences of the women involved and the experiences of the focus group itself. Our findings support the small but growing body of research exploring women’s access to AOD treatment in the context of homelessness.

They typically welcome anyone who identifies as female, as they understand that it’s both the biological and sociological differences between women and men that need to be considered when planning treatment. Unfortunately, women are also more likely to overdose on drugs than men are, and are also more likely to relapse during recovery3. Understanding these increased risks has changed how addiction in women is treated, as the methods that work with men are not always as effective with women.

Barriers to Accessing Addiction Treatment for Women at Risk of Homelessness

However, because women are more likely to combine heroin with prescription drugs, they’re at a greater risk of overdosing to death within the first few years of heroin abuse. The emotional experiences of the women interviewed in response to the system-related and social-cultural barriers navigated removed them further from the treatments they sought to access. Managing eligibility criteria, holding a place on wait list and maintaining contact with services were all impacted by issues related to housing instability. Once admitted to treatment, participants had to navigate appointments and maintain contact with services all within the context of their socio-cultural barriers.

Acknowledging potential damage to their health from past drug use, the women now took steps to improve their health in the present. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support. AA provides an opportunity for people to get together to solve their problem with alcohol and help others to recover. NA is a non-profit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. They are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. Supporting someone struggling with dual diagnosis can be difficult.

Women’s patterns of drug use are often influenced by those of their partner (International Narcotics Control Board, 2017, Neale, 2004, Shand et al., 2011). The authors conclude that both drug and alcohol use disorders are highly prevalent in prison populations, with much greater levels of need than are evident in the community. This was particularly the case for drug problems in women prisoners. This new review included studies focusing on the levels of drug and alcohol problems in men and women prisoners. While the causes of sex addiction aren’t fully understood, a few influencing factors have been identified for female sex addicts.

They constrict our being-in-the-world back to an awareness of our own body and the particular body area where sensations are felt. The spatial world stops being the “centre of purposeful action” [, p. 75] and the temporal world contracts. Physical discomfort demands our attention and brings us back to the here and now.

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