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Women and Addiction


Leslie White, MSW, LISAC

The Problem: Women often begin using and abusing prescription meds from a desperate place of feeling alone, overwhelmed with responsibility of career and family. More and more women are realizing they cannot keep up being everything to everybody. Women are last on their own list of self care and they use the drugs to medicate the anxiety, the pain, and to keep up the facade. More often than not, they are prescribed these drugs from the family practitioners who tend to overmedicate without much accountability. Women are using mainly barbiturates and some are drinking alcohol at night on top of them which is a dangerous combination. There is also a genetic component to addiction and if their family members were addicts they are far more likely to take the same road and use it as a coping mechanism.

The Crisis: For women, the end is most likely to come when their family falls apart, or they have injured the children in some way due to their drug use. They tend to seek outpatient treatment for family therapy at first until the therapist suggests that she look at herself. Many therapists are not trained addictionologists and miss the signs of addiction issues. There is still a stigma attached to addiction for women that is generally not there for men. This leaves women feeling immense shame that they are somehow defective or bad for turning to pills.

The Solution: Women primarily need community support with a system of friends and family and 12 step programs to bring them out of isolation. Residential treatment is the optimal support for women who have chronic issues or a need for detoxification. Residential treatment generally lasts for 28-35 days. Some treatment centers offer detox with full medical and psychiatric support which is generally the first 3-10 days of treatment. Family support is essential to remaining abstinent after treatment as well as ongoing therapy with an addictions specialist and the 12 step program. This is not an issue we can face alone.

Where to Find Help:

Some very useful resources for women who are ready to heal from addiction include, but are not limited to:

-Sierra Tucson, Arizona: 1-800-842-4487 Sierra Tucson

-Hazelden Drug Rehabilitation Center, Minnesota: (800)257-7810 Hazelden

-Betty Ford Center, California: (800)434-7365 Betty Ford Center

-Alchoholics Anonymous, Nationwide: Alcoholic's Anonymous

-Narcotics Anonymous, Nationwide: Narcotic's Anonymous

This Article is provided by Leslie White, MSW, LISAC who has 15 years of experience as an addictions specialist for women. She is the director of an outpatient treatment clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Phone: (623)521-9973

Website: Center for Alchemy

Call now to make an appointment: (928) 231-0114