Examining the Specific Challenges Women Face in Rehabilitation

According to various statistics, women face a different set of challenges when it comes to rehabilitation and drug abuse. As of 2013, it was estimated that as many as 2.7% of women were struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. As a matter of fact, the female abuse of prescription pain killers and number of overdoses is also on the rise. Women are also more prone to developing conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Many drug rehab centers are now catering to the needs of women and are reshaping their treatments for their specific needs.

Treatment Barriers

According to a study by the OSAS, many challenges have been noted when it comes to drug rehab treatments for women. One of the many obstacles women have to face when seeking treatment are finances, especially for women from impoverished backgrounds who have one or more children. Rehab can be expensive on its own and many do not offer accommodations for pregnant or single mothers. Women dealing with addiction often don’t have the support systems necessary to help them deal with this reality. And even when arrangements can be made, they often face resistance from their boyfriend, spouse or family.


Women dealing with substance abuse often have to deal with the stigma and subsequent alienation that comes with it. In some cases, bridges may have been burned with their immediate family and these can be difficult to mend, especially when a trustful bond has been broken so many times. In many cases, women prefer to hide their substance abuse instead of seeking treatment for fear of judgement.

In many cases, women are also involved with a partner that is using as well. This might be an additional barrier to treatment since the other partner might not be interested in seeking treatment. They might berate their significant other into forgoing treatment because they don’t want to deal with the added responsibility.

Most Rehab Treatments Were Not Created for Women

While more women are likely to seek treatment for substance abuse, they are less likely to complete inpatient rehab. One of the reasons for this is that most rehab programs were designed for males. In many cases, these treatments have been patterned after studies conducted on males only. These centers often have a disciplinary approach due to the fact that men are more likely to deny their drug addiction problems. All these factors create an environment that is somewhat hostile to women.

Women tend to react more inwardly to their problems and experience feelings of guilt or shame. An aggressive disciplinary approach could ultimately aggravate their issues. There are also less women being employed as administrators and professionals in treatment centers, which is essential when trying to establish a sense of connection.

Fortunately, many rehab centers are changing their approach and are trying to change their programs to provide better service to female patients. However, there is still plenty of work to be done to improve retention and completion rates for women seeking treatment.

Thanks to Carol Trehearn

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