When it comes to recovering women, the population is disparate in comparison to men. For some strange reason, there are more men that get into recovery than women. Is this because men are more susceptible to addiction or are women getting the shorter end of the stick when it comes to quitting substances? Or is it because of no other reason than the fact that chance has just been laid out that way?
Yes, addiction does not discriminate. Regardless of age, race, sexual identity, gender, religion, or lack of religion, this mental disease is a struggle of the masses. Nonetheless, it is a wonder when one enters a 12-step program post-treatment, the men seem to dominate every meeting.
The Unique Struggle of a Female Addict
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), women struggle with special issues related to their menstrual cycle, fertility, hormones, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause that can impact female struggles when it comes to drug addiction.
Now, this may seem sexist, but the fact of the matter is that the female psyche is different than the male psyche. Just as men have their obstacles, so do women, but it does not mean women are less likely to be successful in recovery once the proper willingness is in tact.
These may seem like minor variables, but when it comes to getting and staying in recovery, these obstacles are life or death aspects—at least when it comes to the possibility of relapse and overdose—of the somewhat unique journey of a female addict. A lot of the time, women respond differently to drugs and they can have “more drug cravings and may be more likely to relapse after treatment” due to “a woman’s menstrual cycle,” says NIDA.
Subsequently, “women are more likely than men to face barriers to accessing substance abuse treatment and are less likely to seek treatment.” It does not make a woman less susceptible to recovery, but it definitely has its challenges.
Now, this is not a set-in-stone evaluation; however, it is a common notion in the addiction-recovery world. Given the many challenges females face, women tend to reach many great successes when these obstacles continue to be overcome.
Once drugs are no longer suppressing the natural ebb and flow of the female psyche, emotions may be on high once clean. With the assistance of therapy and a 12-step program, a struggling female addict can become a strong woman of recovery who can give hope to others.
The Dreaded 13th Step
Another aspect of struggle in a woman’s fight to recover from drug addiction is the dreaded 13th step. The 13th step is the concept of a person in a 12-step fellowship with a year or more of clean time preying on the newcomer. Unfortunately, in such a program, some are more unstable than others and may scare a newcomer—deemed as fresh meat—out of a fellowship and recovery as a whole.
Individuals who pursue the newcomer can drive a naïve and emotionally sensitive girl to dive into the cycle of a toxic relationship and/or get used for sexual activities instead of getting the help and guidance they need. Thirteenth-stepping is not synonymous with men; women can 13th step as well. This common occurrence in the rooms of such fellowships as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) has led many females to flee the program, which often leads to relapse.
Despite this flaw in these fellowships, not everyone is there to prey on the newcomer. In fact, many people in these fellowships are there to work the 12 steps, stay clean, and to support and help others to live a happier way of life free from drugs and character defects.
The solution to this problem is for new women, and women in general, to stick with other women—or people they are not attracted to who are also not attracted to them—who actually work the recovery program. There are actually women’s groups that can help a newcomer female settle into their new life of recovery. Over time, it does get easier for a woman to weed out who is there to grow and stay clean from who is there to stay clean and take advantage of another person.
A Woman of Recovery
When it comes to 12-step fellowships, the female population has grown tremendously since the inception of these programs. Lucky for newcomer women, there are many women who they can cling to in order to learn how to cope with life as a female addict.
A lot of women tend to rear away from other women in the beginning out of a fear of connecting with other females. This goes back to the concept that “women are often harder on each other than men,” according to Psychology Today, which can cause a newcomer to stay away from the strong women in recovery who can essentially save their life.
It is important that a newcomer female befriends other women who are experienced in recovery to learn how to overcome and healthily cope with the unique obstacles she will face—this will help her to stay clean. In fact, according to a UCLA study, friendships between women “shape who we are,” “soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps,” and help to counteract daily stress levels.
Mean girls stop healthy female friendships from developing in the world of femininity, but in recovery, female relationships can save a girl’s life. No one understands a female better than another female, after all. If someone is truly working a 12-step program, they will be far from being the mean girl who is reminiscent of a newcomer’s past.
Seeking Addiction Help?
For both men and women, getting clean off of drugs and staying in recovery can be difficult and challenging. With the help of men helping other men and women helping other women, it is perfectly possible to grow into a successful, happy, clean, and prospering individual.
At Ocean Breeze Recovery, we strive to help struggling addicts to get the help they need so they can start a new, clean, healthy, and happy way of life. If you, or a loved one, is suffering from an addiction problem, our specialists are waiting 24-7 for your call at (844) 318-0070. Call us today!