When clinicians are trying to help women to change, grow, and heal from addictions, it is critical that they place women in environments in which they can experience mutual, empathetic, healthy relationships with their counselors and with one another.
Quote: Stephanie Covington
Barriers To Treatment For Women
Many treatment centers claim to provide gender-specific treatment. In my experience, programs which also work with men often tend to overlook the unique needs of women. According to SAMHSA, 15.8 million women over the age of 18 have used an illicit substance in the past year. Despite research showing the increasing number of women struggling with substance abuse issues, women are less likely than men to seek treatment. When they do, they often experience greater barriers to entering treatment programs such as socioeconomic barriers, interpersonal barriers, and often carrying the primary caregiver role for children. These, plus social stigma against women with substance abuse issues, often overwhelm women into not seeking treatment.
Women Face Unique Challenges Entering Treatment
Once a woman enters into treatment, she also faces unique challenges. Complicated family dynamics, higher rates of domestic abuse, and high rates of complex trauma all pose challenges for women entering treatment. Women often enter into treatment with negative, distorted views of themselves and their place in the world. They also tend to struggle with changes in their physical bodies as a result of getting sober and are at increased risk of developing disordered eating habits or full-blown eating disorders. If these issues are not addressed, women continue to be at higher risk for relapse post-treatment.
Treatment Created For Women, By Women
Anchored Tides Recovery was founded on the belief that treatment created for women, by women, and based on empowerment, can help women achieve lasting sobriety. Based on the research of Stephanie Covington, and other researchers, we set out to design a program to empower women and to help them learn to empower themselves and each other. According to Factors of Empowerment for Women in Recovery from Substance Use, by Bronwyn A. Hunter and Christopher B. Keys, empowerment-based interventions have positive impacts on under-served populations, such as women. The two researchers found that gender-responsive treatment yielded positive results when it helped women increase their sense of autonomy, increase their sense of self-efficacy, increase their ability to make positive choices, and increased their access to social support.
Treatment That Yields Recovery
Our core curriculum focuses on helping women learn about, process, and move past attachment wounds and past trauma, learn about codependency and boundaries in relationships, and helping women to form an authentic sense of self in recovery. We help women learn to express themselves in various ways through music, art, mindfulness, and movement-based therapies. In addition, we provide nutritional counseling and support for women who struggle with body image issues. Our program also has a strong focus on helping women to find work, engage with academics, or to find meaningful volunteer work. We believe that these help women to increase their sense of self-esteem, autonomy, help to build a sense of mastery, and help decrease their financial dependence on others. Our case management team also helps our patients with budgeting and saving to build a foundation for themselves post-treatment.
Safety, Mutuality, and Empowerment
Research on women seeking substance abuse treatment also found that women tend to respond better when the therapeutic environment promotes safety, mutuality, and empowerment. We took this into consideration for every aspect of our program from the decor, to the group schedule, to the staff we selected to work with our clients. Our clinicians model mutual respect and teach clients how power can be used with them instead of over them. We teach women to listen to their inner sources of power and how to use these powers responsibly in the world.