Those who are on the path and journey of recovery know that the journey in of itself is ongoing and can provide its’ share of formidable challenges. This is especially true of the journey that women undertake on the road to long-term sobriety and recovery. While both men and women face similar challenges in recovery such as detoxing, rebuilding relationships, and regaining both physical and mental health, women who are in recovery face unique challenges. In this article, five common hurdles that women face in sobriety will be discussed as well as ways those obstacles can be overcome.
Trauma and Abuse
It is estimated that approximately 75% of women who have past substance abuse issues had a history of physical and /or sexual abuse. Women in recovery may have heavy baggage when it comes to dealing with past abuse because in comparison to males, women who were or are chemically dependent have more perpetrators in regards to who had abused them, more frequency when it came to abuse and had endured abuse for longer periods of time.
In order to move forward in recovery, women who embrace sobriety must learn to embrace safety and finding places (such as women’s self-help groups for example) where they can feel safe and empowered to confront the past, mourn the events and what had transpired and most important learn to reconnect with their true selves.
The presence of co-occurring mental disorders along with substance abuse issues is common across all demographic groups. Women who are recovering from substance abuse commonly experience the following mental disorders:
For women, finding a treatment center that has emphasis on the assessment, evaluation and subsequent of co-occurring disorders is crucial for long-term recovery outcomes. Additionally, women also need to find treatment and aftercare facilities that have the focus on the unique needs that women have regarding recovery, which is less punitive based and more towards empowerment and self-reliance.
In the process of working through the early stages of recovery, women who are newly sober may experience feelings that are very visceral and as a result women may feel difficulty in coping with these new feelings. In order to cope, women may transfer or switch addictions in order to rationalize or cover up feelings. Some common cross-addictions can be to food, sex, work and shopping among others. The key to stopping these cross-addiction for women in recovery is for women to have the proper avenues to divulge and discuss these raw feelings. Having access to effective therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy may be good options.
What women come into recovery, they commonly had previous partners that were substance abusers and the width and breath of their relationships were tied to drug use. Therefore, women who are new to recovery often view drugs in terms of relationships. Being involved in a deep or more romantic relationship while new in recovery takes the focus away from self. If the relationship turns bad, the emotional distress of that relationship will significantly impact recovery. It is crucial that women new to recovery focus on themselves first and establish stability within themselves and avoid the emotional rollercoaster of a relationship.
The “Superwoman” Complex
Women have a lot on their plates. Maintaining a household, taking care of children and a husband and their career is a lot to juggle. When women who are sober complete treatment they might feel pressure to fall back into their routines. The expectations of being a good wife, mother and career woman can place undue burdens on those who are new to recovery. If there is no support or help, women in recovery are at risk of falling back into a stressful life and relapse.