WOMEN: SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT Alcohol and drugs devastate the lives of many women. Substance abuse treatment can help these women regain control. ADDICTION AND GENDER Because addiction and alcoholism manifest in distinct ways for men and women, substance abuse treatment must be similarly tailored to suit each gender. Just as the physical effects of drugs and alcohol differ in men and women, so do the psychological, emotional and situational side effects of prolonged substance abuse. Because all of these differences are pronounced, female alcoholics and drug addicts find the most nurturing recovery experience in treatment programs designed specifically for women. Substance abuse treatment for women addresses gender-specific aspects of addiction and alcoholism, and creates a safe intimate space where women can rediscover themselves. WHAT IS ADDICTION LIKE FOR WOMEN? Addiction and alcoholism are two forms of the same chronic disease, a disease that has devastating effects on both the mind and body. Addiction is often conceived as a behavioral pattern that stems from a lack of moral fiber. In reality, it is a behavioral pattern that results from mental illness coupled with physical dependence on a substance. For women, substance abuse treatment addresses both the physical addiction and the gender-specific mental, emotional and situational aspects of drug and alcohol abuse. Alcohol and drug abuse has different effects in men and women. Substance abuse treatment must take these differences into account if it is to be comprehensive and successful. On the most basic level, drugs and alcohol debilitate a woman’s body at a significantly quicker pace than a man’s. There are several factors that contribute to this phenomenon. The higher percentage of body fat in the female body is significant because fat cells are the locale where the residue of foreign substances stockpiles. With regards to alcohol, the female body is ill-equipped to process excess amounts, due to the small amount of alcohol dehydrogenase (the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) produced by a female’s body in comparison to a male. There is also the issue of sheer body mass. As women tend to be smaller than men, the same amount of substances will generally have a greater effect on women, consequently causing greater damage. More difficult to summarize, but much more important, are the psychological and emotional differences between addicted men and women. Substance abuse treatment, when effective, brings all of these subtle distinctions to light. Women who develop alcoholism and drug addiction are likely to be people who struggled mentally even before they began to drink or use. Chronic depression, severe anxiety, and bipolar disorder are some of the most common mental conditions female alcoholics and addicts bring to the table. Often these women also struggle with low self-esteem, distorted body image, and codependency. Though some of these mental issues can affect both men and women, substance abuse treatment for women can delve into those that apply mostly to the female gender – namely self esteem, body-related issues, and codependency and love addiction. Because these are fundamental insecurities that predate alcohol and drug use for most women, addressing them is crucial to building a strong foundation in recovery. If an individual attempts to get sober without working through and resolving her core issues, she is likely to find sobriety miserable or impossible. Long-term drug and alcohol abuse is also different situationally for men and women. Substance abuse treatment programs designed for women understand that sexual and physical abuse is common for women whose lives are steeped in drugs and alcohol. Many women who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction experienced abuse at a young age, which likely contributed to their desire to escape themselves via substances. Whether these traumatic events occurred in childhood or during the height of substance use, they can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychological condition which required cautious and intensive treatment. The combined burden of both substance addiction and PTSD is a great deal to tackle for women. Substance abuse treatment programs for women must be equipped and ready to handle dual-diagnosis situations such as these. ALCOHOL AND DRUG TREATMENT FOR WOMEN A well-designed rehabilitation program for women encompasses all of the aforementioned aspects of alcoholism and addiction and provides treatment for each of them. Safe Harbor Treatment Center, one of the nation’s premier dual-diagnosis treatment facilities for women, offers such a program. Safe Harbor’s curriculum treats alcoholism and addiction comprehensively, working through not only drug and alcohol problems, but also core psychological issues and any peripheral topics that are relevant for an individual client. Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women and Safe Harbor’s Capella – a new, state-of-the-art facility specifically designed to help women with PTSD and trauma – are multifaceted treatment centers for women, utilizing a combination of structured therapeutic groups, individual therapy and counseling sessions, 12-step meetings, life skills development, and uplifting social activities to create a full and balanced treatment experience. Therapeutic groups cover topics like relapse prevention, body image, eating disorders and healthy relationships, as well as delving into more experiential therapeutic techniques like art therapy, hypnotherapy and psychodrama. Through these various avenues women who come to Safe Harbor jettison unhealthy old behaviors while simultaneously cultivating new ones. Safe Harbor sets itself apart from other top-of-the-line treatment centers by its strong sense of community. Far from feeling like an institution, the residential location of Safe Harbor’s treatment center feels like a home, and the case managers and support staff like family. Many of the women who complete the 90-day treatment program choose to move into Safe Harbor’s sober living houses until they accomplish a year of sobriety, after which they often relocate permanently to the Orange County area. The result is a rich sisterhood of Safe Harbor women, always looking for an opportunity to reach out a hand to the newest member of the family. Located in Orange County, California, Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women has the added benefit of the richest 12-step community in the world. Orange County, in particular the Newport-Costa Mesa area, holds more 12-step meetings of all varieties each week than any other neighborhood on the planet. Surrounded by this vibrant recovery community, and bathed in perpetual sunshine and ocean breezes, Safe Harbor is a haven where female addicts and alcoholics heal their wounds and rediscover themselves. We are here to help. Call us today.