Women and Substance Use

In the midst of a national opioid crisis, the battle against “the stigma” related to addiction continues. One often forgotten population; women.

Society tends to view addiction and substance use as something that affects primarily adult men. While drug education in schools and to the general public has greatly increased many still believe that this disease does not affect women nearly as often as men.

In a study conducted by  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it was reported that 19.5 million adult women had used illicit substances in the past year. This number continues to grow each year, with more and more women going untreated for substance use disorder, as well as co-occuring mental health disorders.

The question often asked; Why are women going untreated ?

Young children, responsibilities in the home, lack of support from family, PTSD, Domestic Violence, lack of female only treatment centers, anxiety, postpartum depression, custody battles, lack of childcare, viewing substance use as ” stress related”, to name a few.

These are battles that women at The Orenda Center face every single day. Challenges such as those mentioned above lead us to start this female only inpatient center. Many women with SUD have a history of trauma, whether the trauma is physical, emotional or sexual, the idea of entering an environment where there may be men or others whom make them uncomfortable can be daunting. The treatment industry as a whole must focus more on the needs of women, as they differ greatly from men.

Providing these women with a second chance, often times looks a bit different. Adding in simple things such as, comforting aesthetics, caring staff members and home cooked meals, all help to increase the level of comfort. However, it truly comes down to the treatment that is offered. We believe the following are extremely important in the treatment of female clients:

Case management upon entry: ensuring that the client is discharged to a safe living environment, proper outpatient care and with the resources needed for their children.

One on one sessions: Groups are an excellent treatment strategy, however one on one sessions are key to ensuring that all of the clients needs and concerns are out in the open.

Family education: discharging a client back to their family, is often times the only option. Ensure that the family is educated on addiction and incorporating them into the clients treatment helps make the transition easier.

Family visitation: The thought of entering treatment for a month or more without seeing their family members, especially children can be daunting and often times the reason women do not seek treatment.

Therapeutic community model: encourages clients to look at themselves and needed life style changes, instead of simply teaching abstinence from drugs. This is especially beneficial for women because they strive to develop closely-knit groups of supportive people. These relationships will be carried on outside of treatment as a support system #orendafamily 🙂

Animal therapy: Women love to care for others, while in treatment, many women crave and miss taking care of their family or friends. Animal therapy is beneficial as it can help to fill this void. Caring for animals each day provides companionship, can raise levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine which stimulate relaxation. Caring for animals also helps to provide meaning and purpose.

-Incorporating multiple Evidence based practices: Like anything in life, nothing works for everyone. Medication assisted treatment, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Dialectical Behavioral therapy, educational groups and lectures, 12- step model, just to name a few that we offer at The Orenda Center, to ensure there is something for everyone.

We hope that in reading this women are given hope. We are different, and deserve recovery as much as anyone else. There is hope for those that are still suffering. If you are a family member or loved one of someone who is struggling with addiction, it is important to do your research in order to best help them. Reach out to your local health department for a list of accredited and licensed programs in your area.

#orenda #orendafamily #recovery #womeninrecovery

By: Kelsea Kephart, Co- Founder

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