For women struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, a women only rehab center can be a good alternative to traditional programs that include men. Women can find a greater sense of comfort and safety beginning recovery in a center that is tailored to meet their unique needs.
Female rehab centers focus on the female experience of addiction, recovery, and life in general. Women have a different physiological, mental, and emotional makeup than men. These differences can get downplayed or ignored in a coed rehab center and leave some women feeling misunderstood or dismissed.
Women Only Rehab Centers
A women’s only rehabilitation center can offer a more comfortable and safer environment for women in recovery in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. Women can freely discuss issues such as domestic abuse, trauma, body image, or eating disorders with others who can more fully relate to their experience.
A women-only environment can make it easier to open up during the recovery process without feeling misunderstood or ignored due to gender differences. In group sessions, women can concentrate on taking care of themselves while building a support network with those alongside them in the program.
Women’s rehab focuses on educating women about how they react uniquely to substance abuse, which improves chances of sustained recovery. Women have unique motivations for using substances, which can include self-medicating to combat emotional struggles, abuse, or traumatic events.
Physiological differences include higher amounts of the hormone estrogen, which creates a greater response to triggers like alcohol or drugs when compared to men. Women's bodies process alcohol more slowly and less efficiently than men’s bodies, and they can become addicted to substances more quickly than men.
Alcohol Treatment Centers for Women
Alcohol rehab for women provides a more targeted treatment compared to coed rehab programs. Some women try to handle a drinking addiction on their own, with help from their primary care doctor, or possibly by joining a 12-step program. These are positive steps toward recovery, but many women need to remove themselves from their everyday circumstances to achieve sobriety.
A woman entering a treatment center will go through an initial intake process. This means that her physical, mental, and emotional health will be evaluated by staff members, including symptoms she is already experiencing. Information on any family history of alcoholism, as well as present circumstances will also be gathered.
The detox process is usually needed to clear the body of any remaining alcohol. For many, withdrawal can be difficult and even painful. Medical supervision offered at a women only alcohol treatment facility can ease detoxification and improve safety during the process.
Therapy sessions help to explore the reasons for drinking without any stigma attached. By sharing the causes of her drinking, such as depression or abuse, a woman can admit her struggles in a safe environment. During therapy, a woman is surrounded by other women who will offer support instead of judgement.
In this phase, time is also spent on education, including learning about the physical toll that alcoholism takes on a woman’s body. For example, learning that women are more likely than men to experience severe liver and heart disease, breast cancer, and brain damage may add to the resolve to stop drinking. Knowing the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome can lead pregnant women to make better choices.
Ongoing support for a woman in alcohol rehab may consist of connecting her with an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in her area, or matching her up with a female sponsor. Or, if she has a strong spiritual life, she could find a local church that hosts Celebrate Recovery. Either way, she needs continued help after her center stay to enjoy a life of sobriety.
Drug Rehab for Women
Drug treatment for women provides a safe environment that mitigates concerns to open the door for recovery. As with alcohol, many women who are struggling with drug addiction hesitate to seek help. They may be in denial about their problem, feeling guilty or ashamed, or they may fear the consequences of openly admitting their struggle.
Drug rehab centers for women offer fellowship and friendship as part of a recovery plan. Group meetings, fitness therapy or even leisure time spent together help women feel like part of a team. A woman who feels supported will be more likely persevere through the challenges of recovery.
Treating Depression and Mental Health Issues
Many times, substance or alcohol abuse is connected to depression and other mental illness. Some women use alcohol or drugs to feel better, while others turn to activities like gambling or overeating. Even if these coping mechanisms are helpful in the moment, a “withdrawal depression” sets in after the substance or activity is done. This can set up the temptation for more, and soon a habit forms.
The best rehab centers offer dual diagnosis treatment, where both the addiction and the underlying depression are addressed. In a women only center, patients go from feeling isolated by their struggles to feeling part of a compassionate group. Hearing how others like them handle life issues is part of a journey towards mental health.
Because of the hormonal fluctuations in the female body, women suffer from different types of depression than men. These disorders can hit at different stages in life, such as with postpartum depression after childbirth, or at the end of menopause. Being treated by staff who understand how to treat these specific conditions gives women reassurance and hope.
Antidepressant medication such as Prozac, given under close supervision, breaks the cycle of depression and elevates the mood. Then, behavioral and cognitive therapy helps people to become more aware of their mental habits and to start to think, and act, more positively.
Domestic Violence and Abusive Relationships
Women who are victims of domestic violence are faced with many challenges. After experiencing abuse, their self esteem can plummet. As a result, they can fall into a place of powerlessness and feel unable to make decisions for themselves. Then, mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts may take hold.
Treatment centers designed for women can be an especially powerful force in helping them deal with the physical, mental and emotional trauma they sustain. The center is a safe place to talk about any violence going on while away from the abusive environment.
Making connections between domestic violence and addictions helps a woman better understand her behavior. For instance, during treatment a women may realize she has felt pushed by her partner into taking substances, or that her addiction began as a way to cope with the fear and chaos surrounding her.
In recovery at a single-gender center, women learn how to take care of their needs in healthy ways, to set good boundaries and to break patterns that have kept them stuck. Sharing the process with peers empowers the whole group.
Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues
Recovery from eating disorders is possible, and calls for a long-term plan of care. Behaviors like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are often connected to body image and weight, or as a response to stress. In a women only support group, members can more deeply explore the pressure they may feel by society to conform to a standard body type. They can speak to each other's experiences to replace negative self images with self-acceptance.
If a woman’s bodily functions are already compromised, immediate hospitalization is called for. Once the patient is stabilized, a more holistic treatment approach to recovery can be started. This typically consists of therapy sessions, group activities, supervised exercise and nutrition education. The goal is to equip each woman to use food to nourish her body and to see herself in a realistic, positive way.
Regular follow-up after inpatient treatment is vital. Eating disorders put a great strain on the body, and medical concerns such as heart failure or organ malfunction can still occur even after the behaviors have changed.
How To Choose a Women's Rehab Center
With all the rehab center options available now, finding the right one can be a difficult task. Here are things to look for in a facility:
Fully Licensed Staff
The medical doctors, nurses and mental health professionals are responsible for supervising a patient's program, from intake and detox through outpatient care. States set standards for treatment centers and staff members that must be met. Independent agencies like the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) also perform inspections and list recommendations on their websites.
Variety of Treatment Options Tailored to the Individual Patient
Every patient comes into treatment with her own set of issues, circumstances and personality. In order to provide a successful experience, rehab centers must be able to provide the type of therapies and activities that are most appropriate in each case. Behavioral, talk and family therapy, group sessions, and peer activities can all play a part. Sometimes prescribed medicine is used, either to treat depression or to ease withdrawal symptoms or cravings. It's important that any treatment plan stay flexible to adjust to a patient's changing needs.
Dual Diagnosis Approach
Because there is often a connection between mental health issues and substance abuse, most centers are ready to treat both conditions at the same time. To do this, the staff must include mental health as well as medical professionals. It must be clear communication between staff, especially about any medications being used during Detox or Rehabilitation.
Familiarity With Specific Issues of Women
Part of the effectiveness of a rehab center designed just for women comes from a staff that understands the unique concerns that women face. Many women have multiple roles in life and also face expectations that cause stress and lead to addictive behaviors. The best centers acknowledge and address the experiences women go through, with an aim of helping them see a better future for themselves.
Rehab can be expensive, and some women may not be in a position to afford it. Fortunately, many sources of funds are available. If they cannot borrow money, States, agencies, and even centers themselves can provide assistance. A Center should have someone on staff to help women find where to get the money they need, and to guide them through application processes.
There are additional concerns women may have as they consider entering a rehab center for treatment, such as securing child care and getting time off work. A treatment center should offer advice and assistance in organizing these things.
Women with addiction disorders don’t have to hide their struggle or fight on their own. Rehab centers designed just for them can provide individualized care that addresses the specific issues that women face during recovery.