Alcoholic Women Break Stigma
April 19th, 2010 · 1 Comment
Orchid Recovery Center, an all-women drug and alcohol rehab center, “alcoholism is a hidden disease and women become quite skillful at hiding it from their closest partners.” Despite the sometimes-sensational news headlines, addiction in women remains a deeply buried problem, stigmatized by society as unlady-like, resulting in a greater reluctance then men from women to seek help. Alcohol addiction in women often goes undiagnosed, unrecognized by their partners even. According to a recent edition of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, women tend to progress more quickly from use to dependency and addiction, more quickly develop medical or social consequences from their addiction, and are more susceptible to relapse after a period of sobriety. Women also enter into their addiction differently than men. Substance abuse and addiction in women is, most often, “brought about by an untreated or unresolved trauma, from an abusive relationship or rape, to even postpartum depression, compounding the difficulties to recognize and diagnose the disease,” according to Queler. Just as a woman’s addiction differs, so too should her recovery treatment, according to experts. Former First Lady Betty Ford, upon leaving the U.S. Naval Hospital in Long Beach where she completed a substance abuse treatment program, advocated for the need for gender-based addiction treatment. In 1982, the Betty Ford Center was founded. But according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, as recently as the early 1990s, the majority of addiction research focused primarily on men, and thus, so too did all traditional addiction treatments. However, there is now a growing body of evidence that female addicts face challenges that male addicts simply don’t, namely familial responsibilities, as well as the physiological differences that affect the biology of addiction. Founded on groundbreaking research of Dr. Karen Dodge, director of research at Hanley Center, the Orchid Recovery Center designed their alcohol addiction treatment program on the principle that women overcome their addictions faster and more effectively when amongst a community of fellow women addicts, and have embraced a holistic approach to treatment, including life skills, yoga, and meditation practice. And so, although research has found that women are less likely to enter into a treatment program, the good news is that, according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, they are just as likely to recover as men. Scheduled for April 30, ABC News’ 20/20 is set to air an in-depth report on alcoholism in women, a look at recovery, testimonials from patients and their families. The report airs Friday April 30th, 2010 at 10/9 central.