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Issues Common to Women in Recovery

addiction treatment for women

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about gender issues, including issues that appear to be common among women in active recovery from addiction and mental health disorders. To address these issues, Northpoint Colorado offers addiction treatment for women, with specific care options among its offerings.

Risk Factors for Addiction in Women

While alcoholism and substance use disorder do not discriminate, women tend to have a specific set of factors that places them at risk for developing an addiction. The following risk factors, which can be biological or environmental, increase their odds of struggling with addiction at some point in their lives.


Studies of interpersonal trauma and substance abuse in women have shown a strong association between the two conditions, in that interpersonal trauma like domestic abuse, physical or emotional, tends to increase the risk for substance abuse, and substance abuse can increase the risk of interpersonal trauma, requiring trauma therapy.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as one in four women in the U.S. are victims of domestic or intimate partner violence.

Negative Childhood Experiences

Anyone can experience a negative childhood. However, many women living with a substance use disorder or alcoholism have a history of taking on adult responsibilities as a child, like keeping up with domestic duties, taking care of younger siblings, and other things their parents should have been doing but could not.

Mental Health Disorders

A 2021 study by the National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than 27 percent of women will experience the symptoms of a mental health disorder at some point in their life. Women appear to present an especially high risk for developing a mood disorder like depression or anxiety. Many accounts of mental illness in women can relate back to their biological makeup as well as experiences endured from being a woman.

Other Gender-Specific Risk Factors

Other risk factors for alcoholism or substance use disorder in women include having a significant other who abuses drugs and or alcohol, conditions related to child-bearing and motherhood—such as postpartum depression or trauma from a negative birth experience or loss of a child.

In short, the intersectionality of gender, addiction, and mental health creates a complex landscape where women encounter issues that are distinct from issues faced by men. However, there also exist specific challenges that are unique to women while in recovery. These can include:

Social Stigma and Societal Expectations

One challenge that women face in their recovery is the stigma surrounding addiction treatment for women. Modern society tends to exact harsh judgment on women who struggle with addiction and mental health, perpetuating unfortunate stereotypes and fostering a culture of shame.

Women may be labeled as “weak” or morally flawed for seeking professional help for their addiction or mental health issues. This fear of judgment can contribute to isolation and perpetuate a cycle of silence that impedes recovery. Breaking free from societal expectations is an essential step for women in active recovery, as embracing vulnerability and self-compassion can ultimately feel empowering.

Trauma and Dual Diagnosis

Many women in addiction and mental health recovery have experienced trauma. In fact, trauma  can serve as the root cause of their substance use struggles. Addressing the link between their addictive behavior and an underlying trauma is often crucial for successful recovery. Dual diagnosis, the co-occurrence of substance use disorders and mental health issues, is a common challenge for women, rendering their recovery more complex.

Gender-Specific Treatment Needs

Women often have unique treatment needs that differ from those of men. Hormonal fluctuations, reproductive health issues, and the impact of addiction on pregnancy all require specialized attention in recovery. Access to healthcare that can address these needs is essential for recovery.

Balancing Caregiving Roles

Those participating in addiction treatment for women may find themselves juggling caregiving duties. Such duties can involve their children, their siblings, their parents, or their in-laws. The challenge of balancing recovery work with caregiving duties can lead to stress and guilt. An adequate support system for childcare can empower  women to focus on their recovery without stress.

Women navigating addiction and mental health recovery face a host of challenges requiring a gender-specific approach. Recognizing the intersectionality of many issues can result in effective strategies that address the specific needs of woman in recovery. 

By destigmatizing their struggles, providing trauma-informed care, and developing a flexible approach toward addiction treatment for women, Northpoint Colorado strives to foster a supportive environment for women on their path to recovery and wellness.

Find Addiction Treatment for Women at Northpoint Colorado

We’re committed to providing individualized, comprehensive addiction treatment for women. Get started today by calling us at 970.762.2353. You can also seek more information by completing our online form.