3 Challenges Women Face in Addiction Recovery

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3 Challenges Women Face in Addiction Recovery

Everyone’s road to recovery is different. The challenges you face in recovery often have more to do with the circumstances of you life than with the substance or addiction in general. For that reason, it’s generally helpful to treat men and women separately. Although the factors of addiction are similar for both, the distribution is often much different. Women also tend to have different life stressors, which can make a big difference in treatment. The following are some challenges women are more likely to face in addiction recovery.

Certain co-occurring conditions

Most people have a co-occurring condition in addition to a substance use disorder. While many of these affect men and women equally and some affect men disproportionately, others affect women disproportionately. For example, women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder. This is thought to have several causes. Women typically experience more severe hormonal changes, especially during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. Women are also much more likely to be victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, which are major risk factors for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Finally, women are at higher risk of developing eating disorders. All of these conditions can be made worse by substance use.

Family stress

Women are more likely to face specific kinds of family and relationship stress. A major obstacle to entering treatment is finding someone to take care of the kids. There are many single mothers who need treatment, but clearly, they can’t leave their kids to fend for themselves for several months. Women may also have more relationship stress. Many women are introduced to substance use by their partners and it can be especially difficult for them to stay in recovery if their partner quits. Women who develop relationships during treatment are also more likely to quit if their partner quits.


The rate of unwanted pregnancy is high among women with substance use disorders. This is because substance use often leads to risky sex. Pregnancy presents special challenges to women with substance use disorders. It can be a good thing if it motivates a woman to seek help, but it also makes treatment more complicated. Women with opioid use disorder, for example, are at higher risk of miscarriage if they quit opioids cold turkey. The stress on the body is just too great, and doctors typically recommend methadone or buprenorphine at least until the baby is born. Unfortunately, the baby typically has to detox as well, which is stressful for both the baby and the mother. Studies also show that women who enter treatment early in their pregnancies are more likely to drop out. Pregnancy also makes treatment of co-occurring disorders more difficult, since pregnant women are advised against taking most medications.

Pinnacle Recovery specializes in inpatient rehabilitation, trauma recovery, AA programs and AA alternatives, experiential therapy, dual diagnosis, family therapy, co-occurring and dual diagnosis addictions. We also offer a wide range of sober living and intensive outpatient treatment programs. Call 1-866-301-0573 today for more information.

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