The importance of offering drug addiction treatment for women cannot be over emphasized. Research has shown that women react more positively to treatment when they are in a gender-specific treatment environment. In the past, drug treatment programs were designed and driven by males. Though men and women both suffer and struggle with the disease of addiction, women have unique and differing needs than men. It stands to reason, that the therapeutic styles and approaches developed and used during the past in the male oriented treatment environment may not be suitable or beneficial to women seeking help for their addiction. In 1993, Velvet Mangan, the founder and owner of Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women, understood the distinct differences between the needs men and women seeking help from drug treatment facilities. She saw the necessity of creating drug addiction treatment for women, which offered a safe and nurturing environment where women suffering from addiction would thrive, heal and begin their journey of recovery. Velvet Mangan has been a pioneer in the development of innovative drug addiction treatment for women suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women is designed for the unique and specific needs of women; with a therapeutic environment that allows women to focus on core issues such as self-esteem, trauma, shame, body image, codependency, nutrition, and relationships. This nurturing environment plays a key role in creating the opportunity for women to recognize and process beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that can are essential for healing to occur. Drug addiction treatment for women is also therapeutically beneficial for women that have survived traumatic life experiences. Without the presence of men, women are capable of facing their trauma and healing from their past traumatic experiences in a supportive, loving setting. Another benefit to drug addiction treatment for women is that these treatment facilities provide women the opportunity to develop healthy, positive relationships with other women that is imperative in building a strong foundation of recovery. Women are able to learn to trust other women, who can most help them in their journey during and following completion of a drug addiction treatment program for women specifically. As a result of the gender-specific environment, women are able to begin rebuilding their lives and truly concentrate on their sobriety, recovery, and healthy living choices. An alumnus of Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women shares her story.
I am so grateful that there is specific Drug addiction treatment for women, or I don’t know where I would be today. My life as a young women suffering from addiction had taken its toll on me physically, mentally and spiritually. The drinking and drugs that had once filled a hole and made me feel “normal” now where destroying me, but I couldn’t stop. I felt as though I was rotting with an addiction I could not hope to cure. I was suffering, that much was true.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, my addiction started at an early age. I was obsessed with watching my mother take the orange, prescription bottle off the shelf and dole out the tiny white pills to my brother every morning before school. Naturally, I followed suit. I started to lose my focus in class; paying attention was becoming more and more of an unattainable task, and one I could no longer master, so one day, in exasperation, my mother gave me a Ritalin. Although it didn’t really affect me, I assured her it increased my concentration, calculating that I could probably get more if I said this. I remember so well, I remember sitting at my little desk, looking out the window; I can recall with distinct clarity the exact moment I looked up at my mother and said, “Yeah, I think this will really help me.” At the time I could not know it, but this was the beginning of my addiction. By the age of 17, I had lost myself. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. I was filled with self-loathing, shame and guilt. But those feelings did little to stop my drinking and drug use. I was leading a self-centered life and my days were consumed with the obsession of finding drugs or alcohol. I had lost so many friendships. At some point, I don’t know when, but I crossed the line from social drinking with my peers to drinking and using drugs everyday. Not only was I on a self-destructive path, but I was destroying my family as they struggled to cope with my behavior, my failing grades, my depression to name only a few of negative consequences my drinking and drug use was causing. I was spiraling out of control. Drug Addiction Treatment for Women was my only hope. I am so thankful I was sent to Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women. At first, Safe Harbor seemed like a warped, Lifetime afternoon movie; sunny, smiley faces peered at me from behind designer sunglasses; it was as if I were watching the young women on a different TV frequency, the images blurred and static. A refrain of “It will get better” became the women’s theme song. Somewhere within the first month of my treatment I began to enjoy waking up in the morning; mopping the kitchen floor became a time of relaxation and refuge, and I realized I was actually becoming what people referred to as ‘happy.’ Initially afraid of women, I gradually began to trust that the girls were offering sincere help. This was one of the greatest benefits of coming to a facility whose focus was on drug addiction treatment for women. Two years later, I work at Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women and I could not be more grateful. I barely have any male friends; all of my friends are women! I am able to offer our women my experience, strength and hope, and act as a living example that drug addiction treatment for women can and does work. The women who come to Safe Harbor remind me so much of myself, and it is an amazing blessing to be able to shepherd them through their first ninety days of drug addiction treatment for women. I thank God every day for the blessings I’ve been given, and for the opportunity to work within the drug addiction treatment for women field.