In years past, addiction typically affected more males than females, but recently this gender gap has been narrowing. However, one trend that continues to hold true is that women are less likely than men to seek addiction treatment. Some reasons for this include fear of shame and judgment, concern about who will care for their children or losing their children, and relying on substance use to cope with mental, emotional, or physical pain.
Pregnant women in particular may be worried about admitting they have a substance use disorder because they fear it makes them a bad parent. Addiction is not a moral failing or lack of willpower; it is a chronic and progressive disease that changes how the brain functions. There is help available for women in overcoming addiction and creating a healthier life for them and their children. Substance use puts not only a woman’s health at risk, but that of her unborn child. Early detection and treatment can help a woman to get on the path to recovery.
Encouraging Treatment as a Family Member
Family members may be more readily aware of the impact of substance use than their loved one. They also want to see what is best for them and their unborn child. One way to be supportive is to become more educated about how addiction impacts women and children.
- Learn about the challenges that women face and how these differ from men.
- Look for gender-responsive addiction treatment that is geared toward the unique needs of women and provides comprehensive care.
- Understand how addiction impacts the entire family and the changes family members must make in order to support recovery.
Recovery is a family effort. At Crossroads, pregnant women can find a safe, judgment-free environment that provides comprehensive services including individual and group counseling, case management, parenting and children’s services, and family engagement. They can even bring other young children with them so that childcare is not a barrier to accessing treatment. Women deserve treatment tailored to their needs and that will strengthen family connections, and Crossroads’ Children and Mothers Program (CAMP) can help.Share with us your motivation for seeking addiction treatment during pregnancy.