Opioid Addiction in Women

October 4, 2017 - - 0 Comments Opioid Addiction in Women

Of the many people addicted to opiate-based substances and prescription medication in America, many are women. According to recent data from Blue Cross Blue Shield, a federation that represents 36 separate United States health insurance organizations and companies, between 2010 and 2016, the number of people diagnosed with opioid addiction increased by a staggering 493%, indicating a problem that is spiraling out of control.

Although everyone has their own backstory behind addiction, women face certain unique challenges that are better catered for in treatment in drug and alcohol rehab for women. There are plenty of generalizations about why women turn to opiate-based substances or prescription opioids like Vicodin and Oxycodone initially and unfortunately, there is also a significant stigma attached to women’s addiction issues.

Why Women Choose Opiates

The main appeal of opiate-based substances is their profoundly sedating effects. When circumstances or situations in life become difficult or challenging, this kind of drug can provide instant relief and immediately alleviate symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, depression and of course, chronic pain.

The problem with opioids is that they are quick to take hold of the body and the mind alike, with a transformative ability to achieve a more peaceful and tranquil state. This chemical reaction is almost impossible to recreate naturally which is why many people become hooked on the sensations the drugs create. The negative side effect is that this often leads to upping the dosage of prescription drugs or simply buying more illicit substances to attain the opiate-influenced state on demand, which often leads to addictive behavior.

Women have unique stresses in life, particularly if they are caregivers to young children or even older generation relatives. Women tend to bear the brunt of social responsibility for nurturing others and often they forget to nurture themselves. A common characteristic of women is to want to please others close to them in order to find validation in their role as caregiver and when that isn’t offered and their ‘services’ are taken for granted, it can result in feelings of anxiety and worthlessness and a need to self-medicate.

Trigger Issues for Female Addicts

According to research, women with addiction often have underlying mental health issues and display higher levels of depression and anxiety than their male counterparts. Sometimes it is mental issues underlying the cause of opioid addiction and other times, they are a direct result of prolonged opioid abuse.

For this reason, a dual diagnosis is important and can be achieved through testing and assessment carried out at women’s alcohol and drug addiction treatment program. Assessment is an ongoing process involving counseling in individual sessions where a woman will be encouraged to talk through the issues behind the initial drug taking that escalated to addiction.

There are a number of trigger issues more prevalent in female addicts than male including:

  • A history of eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia and any kind of body dysmorphia
  • Trauma such as the loss of a loved one or divorce in the family
  • Issues with weight and lack of self-confidence
  • History of sexual abuse at a young age
  • Domestic abuse and toxic relationships
  • Sexual assault such as rape

Sometimes it is not just an incident or experience that results in addiction but the pain caused by violent crimes where Vicodin or Oxycodone is prescribed for long term pain management also has the potential to cause dependency.

Special Recovery Considerations

Because of the special needs of women alcoholics and drug addicts, treatment in a gender-specific women’s alcohol rehab center is considered to be much more effective than mixed-sex treatment programs. This is mainly because of the benefits women feel from having other women to talk to, particularly if they have been through similar circumstances, situations and experiences as themselves. Learning to open up and communicate clearly is an integral part of effective women’s alcohol addiction treatment and allows an opportunity for them to build strong support networks for their lives in sobriety.

Women alcoholics and addicts are perhaps more negatively perceived than their male counterparts and the reason women’s alcohol rehab is so successful is that there is no fear of judgment for women who are desperately seeking help. Female-specific treatment for addiction removes the barriers created by social stigma, to provide an environment where open and relaxed communication is key and women can feel confident they’ll be supported long after treatment has been completed.

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