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Women with AUD struggle more

One of the truths about alcohol use disorder (AUD) aka alcoholism, is that the gender gap is closing. There still are more men than women addicted to alcohol, but as society changes, the statistics move toward equal numbers.

Another truth about AUD is that, for a number of reasons, men are more likely to find treatment than women. And still another truth is that women in substance use disorder treatment suffer more severe addictions to alcohol than men because of the physical, sexual and/or emotional abuses they have experienced during their lifetimes.

An acquaintance had alcohol problems. For whatever reasons, even when she was diagnosed with and went through treatment for breast cancer – one of the risks of alcoholism in women – she did not seek treatment for alcoholism. Her loss is still painful for the family she left behind when she died.

One thinks about things she should have said, things that might have made a difference … might have … But the truth of that is that people have free will and one adult shouldn’t tell another adult what they are going to do, or even what they need to do.

Women are more apt to call alcoholism “bad character” rather than “genetic.” Perhaps they are not aware that they need help. Or maybe they feel such guilt and shame because they can’t handle alcohol or any of their other problems. They may be struggling with anxiety and depression or some other mood disorder. Or they don’t have anyone to help them with child care so they can reach out for help. Worse, what if Children’s Services comes and takes away her children?

All of these things and more are discussed in “Treatment Interventions for Women with Alcohol Use Disorder” that was published recently in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. The authors wrote, “Women with alcohol use disorder (AUD) experience more barriers to AUD treatment and are less likely to access treatment than men with AUD.”

They say the disparities are too great between males and females … jobs, less money, issues with health insurance all play a role in women’s lives, compounded by the issues of AUD.

What research has shown, according to the article, is that the best successful outcomes are seen with “women-only programs with female-specific content. These are programs like Women Focus at Family Recovery Center’s Lisbon facility and MOMs that will begin soon at the Jefferson County facility in Steubenville.

These programs focus on things like anxiety and depression, autonomy, coping skills, and social support for abstinence among other things. Originally, at Family Recovery Center, the WomanFocus program was for women in their child-bearing years, but now is extended to all women, especially since women or grandmothers are often having custody of the children and young adults, advises Eloise Traina, chief executive officer of Family Recovery Center.

“We have programming set up in Lisbon that provides special groups for women within our MAT (medication assistant treatment) program,” she said. “It has been determined that women react differently within groups of same sex rather than mixed groups.” For more information about WomanFocus, contact Laura Martin at the Lisbon office.

“In our Jefferson County office, staffer Melissa Diaz is starting a MOMs group for prenatal, pregnant and postnatal women which is expected to start up at the beginning of October,” Traina advises. “We are seeing more pregnant women coming in for services.”

“The goal of the MOMS is to provide a safe place for women from their pregnancy to post-partum,” says Diaz. “Psychoeducation/evidence based interventions will be implemented to help the women learn about the changes to their bodies during this time and support their recovery.” For more information about MOMS, contact Melissa Diaz at the Steubenville office, phone 740-283-4946.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

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