Back in the day, when I worked at Chestnut Health Systems, about 30 years ago, most folks who came to the Lighthouse, as it was known, were drunks, who used other drugs.
Pain killers that are abused today had not even been developed then, and there was no research about the differing needs of differing populations, for example the differing needs of men and women.
We were all thrown into the treatment milieu together, and went through the same process together, including AA meetings.
Come to think of it, there were not many women at the local AA meetings either. In fact, there was just one meeting per day back then, in Bloomington, Illinois, with Sunday off.
Now there are probably 50 meetings per week, and research has revealed some very interesting and very important differences between what brings women and men to the treatment process and what works for them during treatment.
Since we all have a huge stake in ending the negative consequences for our culture and the children of the still suffering addicts and alcoholics, it seems to me that we ought to take a look at the value of gender specific treatment.
For example, "The latest empirical studies on female substance abusers identify certain addiction consequences that correlate much more highly to women drug addicts and alcoholics than their male counterparts. Among these are low self-esteem, lack of traditional job skills, depression and, by far the most important, lack of a social support network and a strong value system."Biological and Psychological Factors Research suggests men and women have different brain chemistry. For example, women may be more sensitive than men to the rewarding and reinforcing effects of drugs. These physiological differences may help explain why women become addicted to a drug more quickly than men.
Women also have different predisposing risk factors, psychological disorders, and family and social risk factors than men. Trauma caused by sexual, physical, or emotional abuse is extremely common among female users and can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, shame, guilt, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. Women who have experienced trauma often struggle with trust and interpersonal skills, which makes them highly sensitive to group dynamics and interactions with men. For women, addiction and trauma are often inter-related, so an effective substance abuse treatment approach has to address all of these issues at once."
Well, there sure are a lot of treatment centers attending to those issues, and utilizing some very innovative stratetgies, like psychodrama, accupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapies.
I am aware of some Roman Catholic churches dioceses which have included holotropic breathwork as part of the treatment experience for their staff suffering from addiction or family of origin abuse.
I would hope that soon all the treatment centers in the world will be using tools which enhance neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
As soon as alcohol, which inhibits neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells, is no longer present, the brain will renew the neurogenesis process, and those new neurons can be imported to the hippocampus where they will probably be in great demand for a few years, to replace and repair what was lost.
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to rewire itself based on what we are giving our brain to learn. It is always trying out new connections, and if I am focusing my thinking on the steps of recovery, for example, daily prayer and meditation, I will make a lot more daily prayer and meditation connections than I will using connections.
Just like back in the day treatment professionals would have scoffed at the need for gender specific programs, there was no knowledge of our brains ability to rewire or create new cells.
Now there are tools available to enhance neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
Computerized brain fitness programs like Lumosity and Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Pro program can enhance the brain fitness of folks going through treatment.
I know the nurse where I was going through treatment kept pumping my full of vitamin B-12, perhaps because I had neuropathy in my left hand.
But those of you looking to find information about women alcohol treatment, I hope you will take a look at what these tools can do for brain fitness, and what brain fitness can do for any kind of recovery.