Women's Recovery

Do you need a Website devoted explicitly to Women’s Recovery?

Women in recovery are a minority as there are more males in the world of addiction, and due to specific issues that I will go on to talk about, there needs to be a recognition and acknowledgment of these issues, along with a support plan of recovery that differs from male counterparts.

I think there is more shame attached to being a woman and either problem drinking or having a drug problem. I know for me I almost felt that I was less than a woman; I had failed. It just wasn't the done thing. Then to add being a mother into the mix increased these feelings of being a failure to the point that living was excruciatingly painful.

Sex and Gender - the things that separate men and women addicts and alcoholics 

Concerning substance use, the differences of issues experienced by women fall into two areas, differences influenced by sex (biology) and differences influenced by gender (culturally defined roles).

Biological Differences 

Women drug users have a stronger reaction to substances and experience effects more strongly in smaller amounts than males.

Women experience different changes in their brains than men.

Hormones and the menstrual cycle can affect withdrawal symptoms and can be a contributing factor to the relapse process for women in addiction recovery.

Women are more at risk of overdose due to having less body mass than men. Drug overdose amongst women is on the rise.

Gender Differences

I believe the added issues of firstly being a woman, and secondly, being a mother made asking for help and seeking recovery, even more challenging than it should have been. I’ve come across mothers’ (and some lone fathers’ to be fair) who were terrified to go and speak to a doctor about having an alcohol or a drug problem. They stay quiet and try to deal with the problem by themselves but cannot sustain any substantial amount of time sober or clean on their own.

Women are usually the primary carer for children in relationships and have found accessing treatment harder because of treatment facilities designed for men do not have the resources to cater for their needs.

Women experience their problem drinking or using differently than men. Their perception is that society views them much more harshly than they see men. Women are ruthless in how they judge themselves, in my opinion. It is often the case that women drug users and female problem drinkers have also experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or violence. These life experiences can mean that women are suffering from trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.

Essential to my early recovery, remaining so, to this day, was finding a safe space to unpack the stuff I was running from by taking drugs. And also to unpick the stuff that had happened to me because of taking drugs. I had put myself into some dangerous situations while using drugs, plus the things I was having to do to get my drugs were becoming my desperate. You can read more about my recovery story here: Addicted: When the Solution becomes the problem.

Why Women Use Drugs

Women are more likely to turn to appetite suppressants to deal with weight control due to societal pressure to maintain an unnaturally slim image.

There are links with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and the rise in women’s self-medication with prescription drugs.

Women are more likely to use drugs as a way of dealing with trauma.

Prescription drug misuse amongst women is increasing at a higher rate than men, and so is overdose due to prescription medication. It is much easier to obtain this type of drug as compared to illegal drugs.

There are reports that older women between 45 and 54 had the most significant increase in drug overdose deaths. Women in this age group are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and are prescribed opioid painkillers at a much higher dose, risking abuse of pain medication.

A Website Specifically Designed to Cater to Women in Recovery Is a Vital Resource

So the answer is a YES…a website specifically designed to cater to women, all recovering women, is a vital resource. Women are silently crying out for a place that they can come and BE themselves; to recover, without the competition or fear from the other sex.

Sometimes the power dynamics played out between women and men can be subtle and on such an unconscious level that the women are unaware of the impact of such dynamics. For example, ‘women should be seen and not heard’ might have been passed down generationally, and women need to ‘find their voice’ in a safe and supportive environment. Around men, some women may go quiet…or ‘play up’ depending on their life history.

Some women recovering might have been involved in sex work as a way of funding an extortionately expensive drug addiction. Discussing issues such as these can be a great source of shame and embarrassment.

I know we’re talking about a website here and not an actual real live face to face scenario, but I believe the same holds true…

It remains to be said that addiction and alcoholism are equal-opportunity afflictions

What are your views on the subject? You may have experience of attending drug and alcohol services that were male-dominated. How did this affect your treatment? Did it change your treatment? Where you comfortable sharing feelings and life experiences, having no adverse feelings? Or did the presence of men stop you from being completely honest?

Please do share your experience? You’ll be helping other women by sharing your story.

Triskele Recovery aims to support all women, from every walk of life, through empowerment.

There will be personal life experiences shared throughout this blog. The hope is that you’ll see aspects of yourself by reading along. You may see all of your stories in what is shared, or you may see only part. Please look for resemblances with your history; everyone is unique, but hopefully, there will be some commonalities that strike true with you.

These common bonds are the points at which you may be able to receive help. If someone else has had the same or similar experiences and found a way to recover, then so can you.

I get it; you feel alone… I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I have felt the same loneliness, the feeling of isolation, the desperation, the hopelessness.

You are NOT alone.

Women…this is a call to action! As recovering women, we need to look out and support one another. If we don’t do it for ourselves, then it might not happen, and still fewer women will experience recovery. This thought makes me very sad.