Women in Drug Addiction Treatment

Women have usually been associated with problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, physical abuse, prostitution and many more. Sometimes, these problems stem from the society or from the family itself. The treatment for these problems varies from woman to woman, and there are factors which affect the speed of the recovery. This paper will discuss the treatment of women who underwent drug addiction. Drug addiction is considered a disease. O’Donnell et al. (1976) said that drug abuse is one of the social issues that have been a concern for many decades now. This is probably because “drug scene” is still in flux.

New drugs continue to emerge. Drug abuse became one of the most serious, continuing illnesses that women face. The Cleveland Clinic Department of Patient Education and Health Information (2007) reported that the number of women, regardless of age, culture or race, who use drugs, reaches four million. However, only 20 percent receive treatment (Kaltenbach, n. d. ). And the sad thing is that there are no easy cures as women have to undergo treatments to be able to turn away from the addiction. The Cleveland Clinic (2007) furthered that last year, there were about nine million women who used illegal drugs.

It also reported that more than half percent of AIDS cases among women has something to do with drugs. It was noted that women use more than one kind of drug. These women usually experience troubled lives. Perhaps their mother or their father has also abused drugs or alcohol. The Cleveland Clinic mentioned a study which showed that more than half of women who abuse drugs were sexually abused by the age of 16. The Cleveland Clinic (2007) noted that cocaine is one of the drugs that women became addicted to easily. This makes the treatment for their addiction difficult when they look for help.

Women prone to drug addiction are likely to go through other health problems. Additionally, these women exhibit low self-esteem, and little confidence. They might feel powerless because of their susceptibility to the drug (The Cleveland Clinic, 2007). There are even cases of drug addiction among pregnant women. The Cleveland Clinic (2007) noted that there may be reasons why they do not find help. First is the possibility that they may not be able to care for their child or that it is hard to find child care. Second, they do not want the authorities to take away their child.

Third, they fear of being punished if authorities find out they are drug abusers. And last, they fear that their husband, partner or boyfriend will hurt them. A report by the American Civil Liberties Union (2002) showed that more and more women were jailed for drug offenses. Moreover, it showed that women who were recovering do not have much access from drug treatment models. As a result, the government treats drug addiction as criminal justice issue rather than health problems they truly are. Women drug abusers become exposed to health problems such as liver disease, breast cancer and HIV.

Risk for HIV is related to drug abuse. For instance, they work as prostitutes in order to get drugs, or their partner’s drug use. Lex (1995) reported that usually, women start using drugs with their boyfriends. Sometimes, women use drugs to comfort them during the demise of a relationship (Amaro, 1995). They also have a hard time abstaining from drugs if their partners support the drug use (Addiction Help Line, 2005). It is important to note that more women resort to drug use as a result of violent and abusive relationships. These issues added to low-esteem, mental health problems, poor coping skills and risk of suicide.

Since most women drug abusers come from poor communities and have seen difficult times (Mitchell, 1993), the treatment for them should be holistic. Not just drug use but also underlying problems must be addressed. Those services that are meant for their recovery must aim to empower them, improve their skills and help them to achieve life stability (Falkin, et al. , 1994), especially after their treatment. Additionally, programs for treatment must recognize that women constitute a diverse population who has experiences and coping skills influenced by race, class and ethnicity (Banyard & Graham-Bermann, 1993).

Most of these women drug abusers need treatment which gives them access to their needs such as food, clothing and shelter. They also need other basic things such as transportation, child care and parenting training; medical care, mental health therapy and legal assistance. Treatment programs must include skills such as reading, skills to find a job and basic education for their life after the treatment. Rahdert (1996) reported that most of drug treatment programs developed was by men, for men, and on men. There may be drug treatments for women, but not all were based on women’s special needs.

Morash and Bynum (1995) stressed the importance of women-only programs. This is because treatment issues, which include domestic violence and sexual assault, are uncomfortable to disclose in a coeducational group. Peer support through role models for success and supportive networks must also be considered. Moreover, a woman undergoing treatment must have a continuing relationship with a treatment provider. This is to assist the woman drug user in recovering, as she is likely to experience relapses. The community and the family of the woman must also encourage and support her.

After the completion of treatment, she would also need services that will help them to maintain their recovery (Addiction Help Line, 2005). It is of utmost importance to give assistance and treatment for women who are and were drug abusers. Treatment programs must emphasize the special needs of these women to be able to recover. These programs must improve the understanding of the problem of drug abuse and increase access to information and treatment. Pregnant women must also be given priority and access in treatment programs as their babies are also affected.

The families of victims must also be reached and encouraged to help their relative who has drug use problems and refer them to treatment. References Addiction Help Line. (2005). Drug addiction treatment for women. Retrieved on November 4, 2007 from http://www. addiction-help-line. com/treatment_for_women. html Amaro, H. (1995). Love, sex and power. Considering women’s needs in HIV prevention. American Psychologist (50)6, 437-447. American Civil Liberties Union. (2005). Caught in the net: The impact of drug policies on women and families. Retrieved on November 4, 2007 from http://www.

civilrights. org/press_room/press-releases/caught-in-the-net-the-impact-of-drug-policies-on-women-and-families. html Banyard, V. L. , & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (1993). Can women cope? : A gender analysis of theories of coping with stress. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 17, 303-318. The Cleveland Clinic Department of Patient Education and Health Information. (2007). Women and drug abuse. Falkin, G. , Wellisch, J, Prendergast, M. L. , Kilian, T, Hawke, J. , Natarajan, M. , Kowaleswkis, M. and Owen, B. (1994). Drug treatment for women offenders: A systems perspective.

Washington, D. C. : National Institute of Justice. Kaltenback, Karol A. (n. d. ). Gender differences in treatment needs, services, utilization and outcomes. [Power point presentation]. Lex. , B. W. (1995). Alcohol and other psychoactive substance dependence in women and men. In M. V. Seeman (Ed. ) Gender and Psychopathology. Washington, D. C. : American Psychiatric Press. Mitchell, J. L. (1993). Pregnant substance using women: Treatment improvement protocol series. Rockville, MD: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

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