Women’s addiction treatment begins with understanding the importance of drug and alcohol treatment in a gender-specific environment. Gender-specific recovery programs are especially important when treating drug addiction and alcoholism in women. UNDERSTANDING DRUG ADDICTION Drug addiction is a complex illness characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug craving, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences. While the path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs, over time a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised, and seeking and consuming the drug becomes compulsive. This behavior results largely from the effects of prolonged drug exposure on brain functioning. Addiction is a brain disease that affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior. Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual’s life, women’s addiction treatment is not simple. Effective women’s addiction treatment programs must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Because addiction is typically a chronic disease, people cannot simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients require long-term women’s addiction treatment center or repeated episodes of care to achieve the ultimate goal of sustained abstinence and recovery of their lives. WOMEN’S ADDICTION TREATMENT: GENDER-SPECIFIC ENVIRONMENTS Research has shown that women exhibit more depression and suicidal tendencies when battling with drug addiction and alcoholism and also may suffer from co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). They also have a higher rate of exposure to domestic violence, whether in their childhood or current relationship. For many women, alcohol is the way to medicate to avoid these issues. For the female alcoholic to have a significant chance at recovery, she must first uncover the reasons she uses or drinks. The rate of co-occurring drug addiction and other psychiatric disorders is relatively high for women. For example, data from a study on female crime victims showed that those suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) were 17 times more likely to have substance abuse problems than non-victims. For women a high correlation appears also to exist between eating disorders and drug or alcohol addiction (as many as 55 percent of bulimic patients are reported to have drug and alcohol use problems). Conversely, 15-40 percent of females with drug addiction or alcohol problems have been reported to have eating disorder syndromes, usually involving binge eating. The 90-day women’s addiction treatment program at Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women provides a safe environment where a woman can address her drug addiction, alcoholism or her co-occurring mental disorders without the shame and stigma usually felt in a co-ed environment. Another advantage of gender-specific women’s addiction treatment programs is that they allow a woman a secure and nurturing environment where she can learn about herself, why she drinks, why she uses and why she avoids. At Safe Harbor’s women’s addiction treatment program, each woman is put on an individualized recovery path and is supported through the process of finding the core of her emotional and spiritual self. Medication and behavioral therapy are also important elements of the overall therapeutic process in the women’s addiction treatment program at Safe Harbor. The process may need to begin with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention. Easing withdrawal symptoms can be important in the initiation of treatment; preventing relapse is necessary for maintaining its effects. Behavioral treatments help our women engage in the treatment process, modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse, and increase healthy life skills. WHY WOMEN’S ADDICTION TREATMENT? The addiction faced by individuals who find themselves in such a predicament is twofold – its grip is both physiological and psychological. With regular consumption of any foreign substance, the mind and body adjust their definitions of normality so that intoxication becomes the expected default state. If addicts attempt to suddenly discontinue using the substance to which their mind and body are addicted, they will experience frightening reactions from both of these systems. The body will respond, depending on the substance in question, by producing feelings ranging from discomfort to severe pain. With some substances, such as opiates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines, detoxification of the body is extremely dangerous if not done under medical supervision. In women’s addiction treatment, LA and elsewhere, medically regulated detoxification is provided as the first segment of treatment. Mentally, a similar panic takes place upon rapid cessation of substance intake. Accustomed to a state of intoxication, the mind is unsure of how to read and interpret signals without the substance it has grown used to. Dopamine and serotonin levels are also skewed. These phenomena add up to a high likelihood of emotional imbalance and intense fear in the initial phase of detoxification. Mental and emotional instability will persist until the mind reestablishes equilibrium, another reason that addicts are safest sobering up in addiction treatment. LA and surrounding areas offer the finest treatment programs, which allow addicts a safe detoxification process as well as the strong rehabilitative curriculum they need in order to cultivate a healthy new beginning. CHOOSING A WOMEN’S ADDICTION TREATMENT CENTER Once the female alcoholic or addict has made the decision that she is ready to accept help, a second important decision must be made: What program should be chosen for addiction treatment? LA and Orange County offer an unrivaled selection of top-of-the line treatment programs, and have the added appeal of year-round sunshine. Many of these California women’s addiction treatment facilities are located in beach communities, utilizing the naturally uplifting weather and the healing power of the ocean to set the tone for recovery. The leader of the pack in Southern California women’s addiction treatment, Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women offers a deeply nurturing program of addiction treatment. Utilizing a multi-lateral treatment program of structured therapeutic groups, individual counseling, 12-step meetings, and life skills development, Safe Harbor affords women the opportunity to dive head-first into recovery, placing unlimited resources at their fingertips. Call us today. We are here to help.