There was a time in the not so distant past that all addicts were treated with the same kinds of therapies, regardless of their gender. However, in light of ongoing research, women are known to have very real needs that are specific to their gender and as a result, therapeutic intervention must be tailored to these needs. Per Wickstrom of US Addiction Services, The Best Drug Rehab and several other treatment facilities explains that biology is only one player.

Societal and environmental triggers also need to be accounted for and in his words, “Quite frankly, those triggers are different in women than they are in men. It’s a known fact and one of the reasons why our holistic approach is so successful. We treat the whole person which means that women most often have a different slant on what is healthy for them and what can help them ease through the pains of recovery. And, make no bones about it, recovery can be painful,” he says. “But the benefits of seeing it through to recovery are beyond what words can express.”

So Then Per – What Are the Unique Needs of Women?

When asked to explain the unique needs of women, Per Wickstrom answered a question with a question of his own. “I ask you this. What is the one group that still is highly responsible for taking care of the home, raising children and being the caregiver in the family? Yes, although there are many more stay-at-home dads and custodial fathers in a divorce than ever before, women by far outnumber men in those positions,” he says. “This is important because these are some of the greatest needs we must address with women who come to us seeking help in recovery.” Here Per is referring to the most recent statistics that show more than 17% of custodial parents are now dads.

Childcare Is Huge

One of the reasons that more women don’t seek treatment is childcare. Who is going to watch the children while they are away at a recovery center? Although those very same children are often the motivator for getting clean and sober, it’s a Catch 22. You need to get clean for the kids but who will watch the kids while you’re drying out? Aftercare isn’t bad, Per notes, because women are back home with their families and interaction with their counsellor for that year of aftercare is limited to an hour or so at a time. It’s being admitted to a residential facility that is worrisome and one of the most unique needs women facing substance abuse treatment have.

While there is no simple solution to childcare, Per says that women should seek out family members and friends who would be willing to take the kids in for a brief period of time so mom can get the help she needs. There are also some social services that might step in to provide temporary foster care and churches might be a good resource as well. This is one need unique to women that is yet to be answered satisfactorily, but it is a major concern of mothers in treatment.

The Most Common Trigger in Women

Research has shown that women suffer from PTSD at a much greater percentage per capita than men and it is this one disorder that often triggers substance abuse. Many women have been raped, sexually abused or treated in some way that brought about traumatic levels of stress. In seeking to treat PTSD, many doctors prescribe medications that are also addictive and in the end, these women may find some level of healing from one disorder only to end up with another – addiction.

Addressing Those Triggers and Unique Needs

At US Addiction Services and Per Wickstrom’s other treatment facilities, every effort is made to help women with their unique needs. Sometimes programs are tailored to the needs of a mom with little to no help in the childcare department and other times staff will help mom find a suitable solution so that she can get the care she needs. However, even women without kids find a stigma attached to substance abuse that is not attached to their male counterparts which means that the approach to treatment needs to confront societal issues as well as substance abuse issues.

Together with their clients, US Addiction Services are always seeking new and innovative ways to afford women the recovery therapies they require while addressing their own unique needs as women. Per Wickstrom believes that knowledge is key and that once this social stigma is corrected, more facilities will be available to women. Until that time he and his staff are working overtime to help women find the solutions they need to help them on their path from addiction to recovery.

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