Overcoming Addiction in Women

Contributed Article by Marcia Nickow Psy.D., CADC, CGP – Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Primary Therapy Coordinator at
Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Addiction is on the rise among women in America today. Although most people believe addiction is confined to alcohol or drugs, it can also fall into many categories including shopping, sex, gambling, relationships and more.

Addiction in Women

The pressure on women today is immense. In young women, the pressure to be perfect often leads to eating disorders. To suppress appetite and remain skinny, they may rely on illegal drugs such as crack cocaine. For working mothers, the stress to do it all and be it all often leads to addiction, specifically stimulant abuse. To counterbalance this high level of stress, women frequently rely on the calming effects of alcohol. Over time, drug-seeking women end up in their doctors office with myriad complaints about depression, anxiety or an inability to sleep. Not only is it fairly easy to acquire the desired medication, it is legal, and therefore, acceptable. Recently, it was reported that in 2008, approximately 15,000 deaths were attributed to prescription pain fillers.

Recovery Obstacles

Many factors, such as finances and employment, prevent women from getting help. Possibly the group that most needs help is the one least likely to get it: mothers with children at home. Why? Because they are terrified their children will be taken away from them by a social service agency. A woman with a known addiction might be labeled a bad mother who neglects her children and places them at risk. The subsequent step is to remove the children from the home.

Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment usually starts with outpatient therapy and may advance to residential care. At Timberline Knolls, addiction treatment focuses a great deal on underlying trauma, be it sexual, physical or emotional. A high correlation exists between psychological issues and addiction. We also look for other active addictions such as eating disorders or co-dependency since they are often present. Family involvement is key for overall understanding and support. Timberline Knolls uses a 12-step model of recovery and though structure is definitely in place, we know that empowering these women to take an active role in their recovery provides the best chance for success.
Drug use and abuse in women is escalating at an alarming rate; yet, with appropriate treatment, every woman can achieve and maintain long-term recovery.
Last reviewed: April 5, 2017 By Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC 

Page last updated: April 5, 2017

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