Women with addiction issues face different challenges and experiences related to their addiction and recovery compared to men. Women who abuse substances have a higher risk of developing other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders, major depression, eating disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Alcohol and drugs can cause problems to the hormonal and physiological functions in women, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. These substances can affect the baby during pregnancy and after delivery. During the pregnancy stage, substances can impact the development of the fetus and cause congenital malformation or birth defects. They can also affect the physical growth and organs of the baby, resulting in lifelong learning, emotional and physical problems.
Women are often introduced to substance use by their partners and family members. Research has shown that having a partner who abuses substances influences woman’s severity of substance use, treatment seeking behaviours, continuation of treatment and recovery. On the other hand, having a supportive partner who does not abuse substances significantly helps to improve the chances of achieving abstinence and recovery.
With the multiple roles and caregiving duties to various people
(parents, in-laws, etc) women carry upon themselves, there is a huge amount of
stress that comes along. As such, some women rely on substances to cope. In
treatment, women are offered the opportunity to look carefully at their
relationships and understand the impact of these relationships on them. At the
same time, they can learn skills to improve the important relationships in their
As women have very specific needs during treatment, they often face numerous barriers to seek and remain in treatment. These include their role as primary caregivers and having to take time out from family responsibilities. There is also the worry of losing relationships if families/friends/partners are also substance users. They may also experience stigma and shame from admitting to substance use and/or being in addiction treatment. They fear that admitting to substance use will jeopardise their custody of their children. Women who are pregnant may also face difficulties in finding facilities that meet their needs.
As such, it is crucial that help and support are accessible to women with addiction issues. At NAMS, a multidisciplinary team works with each individual client in the journey to recovery by providing a safe and nurturing environment to address their needs.
For more information about treatment at NAMS, click here.If you are currently pregnant and would like to find out more, click here.