Retaining patients in treatment for addiction for an adequate period of time is crucial to the success of the treatment. Experts say that addicts need at least three months in care to significantly reduce or to completely stop using drugs or alcohol. Men and women are motivated by different factors and stay on track with treatment for different reasons. To keep addicts in treatment means looking at men and women and their unique needs separately. If a woman you care about is getting help for addiction, take these factors to heart and encourage her to stick with it.
Unique Needs of Female Addicts
To begin with, women are biologically different from men, which means that drugs and alcohol affect them in different ways. There are also social and environmental factors that make a woman’s situation and relationship to substance abuse unique. These differences can mean that women abuse substances, seek treatment and fail at treatment for different reasons than men do. For treatment to be most effective, these need to be addressed.
As an example, sexual and physical abuse, often followed by post-traumatic stress disorder, are common in women with addiction disorders. This can be a major risk factor for substance abuse and should be addressed in treatment. Other issues women may have when it comes to getting treatment for addiction include pregnancy, child care and being financially dependent.
What Keeps Women in Treatment?
To ensure a woman gets the most effective treatment and has the best chance of being successful in achieving sobriety, she needs to stay in treatment for an adequate period of time. Her unique needs and situations impact that, and researchers have helped to pinpoint some factors that help retain women in rehab:
- Partner support. Having the support of a partner is a huge factor in keeping a woman in treatment. It also helps her stay sober after treatment. Couples’ therapy is one way in which a partner can support a woman getting help for addiction.
- Involvement of social services. Women who ended up in rehab because of the criminal justice system were more likely to stay in care, probably because it was mandated. Being able to retain custody of her children, through working with social services, also helped women stay longer. Women whose parental rights are uncertain are more likely to get out of treatment early to make sure they retain custody.
- Supportive therapies. Women respond much better to therapeutic techniques that are supportive and caring than those that are confrontational. They are more likely to stay in treatment if therapists are kind, compassionate and supportive. A “tough love” approach tends to make women want to quit.
- Meeting other needs. Women are more committed to treatment when their more immediate needs are met: housing, care for children, food issues, mental health issues. Women respond better to this kind of collaborative, all-inclusive approach. Onsite child care is particularly important in keeping women with children in treatment.
- Same-sex treatment. Getting treatment in a facility with only women seems to have a significant impact on retention. It may be that women feel more comfortable and more open when there are no men involved. This is not necessarily the case for therapists.
Understanding how women and men are different when it comes to addiction is important in making sure that everyone gets the most effective treatment possible. If you love a woman who needs to get treatment, look for these characteristics when searching for a rehab facility. They could help her stay in treatment longer and be more successful at staying sober in the long run.