Addiction and addiction recovery is different for every person. Some people feel that they had no issues with their recovery process at all, and they feel as though it was the best decision they ever made. Others really struggle from the moment they begin and it takes months and a great deal of willpower before they ever start to feel relief from their addictions.
There are many debates about the addiction recovery process and whether or not it differs depending on your gender. There are some interesting thoughts out there, and we thought we would take some time and discuss them for your benefit. Please keep in mind that while these experiences might be typical for men or for women, the way your body adjusts to addiction recovery might be completely different. To begin, we’ll talk about a few of the ways men and women experience addiction differently. You might be surprised at what you discover. Then we’ll talk about some of the ways men and women approach recovery and the benefits they gain from it.
Addiction for Men
Did you know that at one time, addiction was thought to be something that only men dealt with? Very little thought was given to how women were affected by addiction and how they handled recovery. As a result, experts know a great deal about what men can expect from addiction recovery. In fact, research has shown that drug and alcohol addiction is more prevalent in men than it is in women, although the number of women who struggle with substance addiction has been steadily rising for several years.
In general, men tend to fare better with using drugs and alcohol than women do. Their bodies are designed to allow for consumption of more substances at one time, and they are generally able to manage their addictions longer than women are. Because of the fact that men have more water in their bodies and because they have higher metabolic rates than women do, men can often consume more alcohol and drugs than women with less immediate physical effects. Men also experience less long-term physical symptoms related to drug and alcohol addictions. Even so, studies have shown that their consequences for their drug and alcohol use remain fairly the same for both genders if the addiction continues for a long period of time.
As far as actually taking the steps to seek out treatment for their addictions, most men find it easier to take the steps to get help than women do. This might be for a variety of reasons, but in general, men don’t concern themselves with the costs of getting treatment and finding childcare is usually not one of their deciding factors either. Socially, there isn’t really a stigma attached to men who are recovering addicts, so men are likely to find a great deal of support available to them within their circle of friends and among their family members. They may also have friends and family who have gone through addiction recovery themselves, which can help to ease any difficult transitions.
Addiction for Women
Women approach addiction recovery differently than men because they also approach addiction differently. For women, they quickly become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol and their progression into chemical dependency is often very fast. Even so, women tend to “manage” their addictions a little easier than men do. This might be partially due to the fact that most women have responsibilities within the home. They may need to care for their children or they may feel a distinct need to make sure their houses always look nice. It might take some time, but women quickly adapt and when they have an addiction, they generally find a way to weave it into their lives without having to sacrifice too much in other areas.
At times, women may be less likely to become addicts, probably because of their other commitments and their priority in their lives. Women who do become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol often cite reasons like using substances as a way to cope with emotional issues or trauma they have faced in the past. Relationship problems, childhood physical, verbal or sexual abuse and stress all play a major role in the lives of women who are addicted to substances. In many cases, women will become addicted to drugs or alcohol because substances were introduced to them by a significant other in their lives. Perhaps a boyfriend or a husband showed them how to use drugs or took them drinking on a regular basis. Many women even learn certain substance abuse rituals such as needle-sharing because they had a significant other who invited them to join in.
As far as the physical aspect of addiction goes, women are more likely than men to use substances for weight management. There are more women who smoke because nicotine helps keep their weight down. The same is true for cocaine and amphetamine addictions. In addition, women tend to be more sensitive to the effects of drugs and alcohol for biological reasons. For example, a woman who drinks the same amount of alcohol as a man is going to get drunk much more quickly. It is possible that because of their increased sensitivity, women also tend to experience the consequences of addiction earlier in their lives. They’re more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer or heart attacks, and they’re more likely to develop a wide range of other medical problems because of their addictions too.
Addiction carries a significant social stigma for women, which is one reason it may be difficult for them to seek out treatment. Men don’t experience this as much. Women also have additional responsibilities in the home, such as caring for their children, which make it harder for them to justify getting the treatment they really need. They will often attempt to stop using on their own and have several failed attempts. It might take the intervention of a supportive friend or family member before they’re able to come to terms with addiction recovery treatment as a necessity for their lives.
The Results of Addiction Treatment for Men and Women
We’ve had just a glimpse of the way addiction affects men and women. Of course, no one’s experience is ever completely typical, and so your experience might vary. The question remains, how do men and women benefit from addiction treatment? Are there any differences in the way they experience recovery. The answer is yes, but there are many similarities too.
First of all, both men and women are just as likely to relapse after they’ve completed an addiction recovery treatment program. However, studies have shown that women are much more likely to return to get the help they need after a relapse has occurred. They also have shorter relapse periods. Both men and women derive the same types of benefits from programs that include more detailed services, such as dual diagnosis treatment options that also address any mental illnesses that might be contributing to the addiction. Men and women also appreciate the social factor of group therapy and both genders find that this type of setting offers them the support they need as they work through recovery.
Twelve Step programs are actually ideal for both genders because while men and women have different needs in recovery, these programs do an excellent job of fulfilling those needs. Men who struggle with addiction will often feel a sense of worthlessness because they’re unable to overcome it on their own. They often see their addictions as character flaws that need to be removed. Twelve Step programs address these issues and help to build men up again, and at the same time, they empower men to leave those flaws and issues behind.
Women have needs of their own and Twelve Step programs do an excellent job of addressing them. Women have a need for a deep spiritual connection, and because the program is built upon the reliance on a Higher Power, that need is met. The program is also very focused on fixing and rebuilding relationships that have been bruised or even ruined because of the addiction that was in control for so long.
Both genders are drawn to the program because of its emphasis on utilizing a social support system in order to break free from the confines of addiction.
Regardless of where you find yourself or what you’re struggling with, addiction has a negative impact on your life, whether you’re a man or a woman. While you might experience addiction differently than someone of the opposite gender, and while you might struggle with coming to terms with your need for help, addiction recovery treatment can give you the tools you need to begin your journey toward recovery.
We would like to help you on that journey. If you would like more information about one of our addiction recovery programs, or if you just need to talk to someone about the options that are available for you, please contact us.