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Women and Substance Abuse Treatment

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March 8th marked the International Women’s Day and this year’s theme “Make it happen” speaks to equality for women.

It is with this theme in mind that BOSASNet explores women and substance abuse particularly their access to substance abuse treatment.

Women are nurturers. BOSASNet receives a lot of phone calls from women who are enquiring about getting help for their loved ones, as that’s what a nurturer does.

They seek help for their partners, children, and parents but can rarely bring themselves to acknowledge their substance use, if they do use.

In this regard women tend to neglect their own needs, and instead put others’ before theirs.

Substance abuse or addiction is a disease for all. It affects everyone despite gender or socio economic status.

Although this is a known fact, women are accessing services in small numbers.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), research on substance abuse and treatment and care for women done in 2004 highlights a lack of access to treatment as one of the main challenges faced by women who are affected by substance abuse.

This research suggests that culture is a big component of what may be preventing women from accessing treatment.

Is it a taboo, disgrace and absolutely unexpected of a woman to be seen abusing any substance?

For instance is a woman who is drunk viewed in a worse light than a man in the same situation?

According to UNODC it is this perception that automatically deters women from seeking out help for substance use problems because of the shame and guilt they may have of knowing that it is highly unexpected behaviour on their part.

There may also be some embarrassment felt by a woman using.

A female client said “acknowledging my alcohol drinking is like admitting I’m a failure. I mean what kind of woman loses control over herself; and what hope does she have for controlling her household?”

This statement speaks to the amount of perceived pressure from society about how women should behave.

It also speaks to the expectations that women are self-contained, can handle anything and must keep a ‘clean house’.

At BOSASNet we provide a safe environment for anyone who has a substance abuse issue including women.

As we reflect on this theme we encourage women to access services, not only for their loved ones, but for themselves.

If you or someone you know would like help in achieving their goals of being substance free, please feel free to contact us at 3959119, 72659891 or our Facebook page- BOSASNet.

…because we care…