Until the 1990s research on substance abuse and dependence hardly mentioned women, and instead focused on men. A study conducted in 2008, however, revealed more information about gender-related differences in addiction and treatment. Men appear to be more likely to become addicted than women, and women who have been in treatment have better long term recovery outcomes than men. Treatment programs and approaches had generally been defined based on research in men, but around the 1990s more research has been done into improving treatment for women.
If you are a woman and are addicted to opiates, there are treatment programs that will offer gender-specific and gender-sensitive services. Matching patients with same-gender counselors, mixed gender groups led by male and female co-leaders, gender specific treatment groups, and gender specific treatment content and education. It is important to note, however, that gender-specific treatment is not available at all centers, and that services may be limited to a certain number of clients due to restricted resources.
Many opiate addiction treatment centers will accommodate women by offering gender-matching with counselors. You may be more likely to open up to another woman, and thus better able to be helped by treatment. In group counseling, some programs offer mixed gender groups that are led by both male and female counselors so that there is equal representation in the group and so that women may again feel more comfortable.
All-female groups and even treatment centers exist, as well, and are an option for your recovery. These groups include discussions about women’s issues and cover topics such as pregnancy, employment, housing, and parenting. In addition to discussions, they provide women-specific education to help target treatment correctly.
Some treatment centers offer other services that are attractive to women. These ancillary services are intended to attract women into treatment and to facilitate treatment. If you are struggling with addiction and are also raising children, you may be able to find an opiate addiction treatment center that offers child care for the time while you are in treatment. Others offer transportation for women who are unable to get to the treatment center on their own. Other services that are intended for women are specialized groups for pregnant women and for parents and their children.
Overview of general treatment options
These different opiate addiction treatment options for women take place in either outpatient or inpatient care centers. With inpatient care, you will live inside the treatment center and have daily treatment. Outpatient care is at regular intervals and you will live at home. For mothers who are caring for young children, inpatient programs may be more difficult. Certain outpatient care centers, as mentioned, may offer day care. Part of your treatment will likely involve drug substitution therapy where you will take methadone, suboxone, or buprenorphine to help deal with the cravings and withdrawal associated with your opiate addiction. Methadone is safe for pregnant women. Lastly, addiction is a chronic disease, and you may need to go to treatment or support groups throughout your life. It may be possible to find gender-specific and gender-sensitive groups.