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Women struggling with addiction can find hope

Women struggling with addiction can find hope

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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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Cassie’s story

Cassie was a fun teenager. She was extremely competitive and had plenty of success in volleyball and other sports. Her little sister admired her and she had a close family.

In high school, Cassie tried pot and alcohol for the first time. In college, Cassie began trying other drugs recreationally. After hurting her shoulder and losing a scholarship, Cassie started dating and hanging out with people that spent most of their time doing drugs and drinking.

Eventually, Cassie married and had children and seemed to be done with drugs for a time. However, Cassie’s husband fell back into drug use, and she eventually followed suit.

After divorcing, Cassie met another man who was physically abusive. She was using a variety of drugs and unable to take care of her children. Her parents helped her leave the situation, but Cassie wasn’t the same. She couldn’t cope and started a downward spiral.

Finally, Cassie sought the treatment she needed. Nine years after starting down a path of drug and alcohol addiction and suffering through several abusive relationships, Cassie got the help she needed to start a new life. With the knowledge she’s gained, Cassie now feels like she has the tools to deal with life’s difficulties, along with a hope for a brighter future.

Learning about addiction

With help from the caring staff at Renaissance Ranch, Cassie found hope and light ahead. It took courage from her to reach out and ask for assistance.

In recent years, science has learned quite a bit more about addiction. For decades, addicts were viewed as people who were bad, weak or lacked self-control. However, a sizeable amount of research shows that addiction is a physical brain-altering process, according to a report from National Geographic.

Still, victims of addiction are often treated differently than those who have other health maladies. As an example, someone you know with Type 2 diabetes may indulge in sweets on occasion, but most people would not blame the diabetic. They also wouldn’t dream of looking down on that person simply because he was susceptible to diabetes.

Women face special challenges

Research since the 1990s shows gender differences in addiction, according to information from Harvard Medical School. Women "often progress more quickly from using an addictive substance to dependence (a phenomenon known as telescoping)," the Harvard Mental Health Letter states. "They also develop medical or social consequences of addiction faster than men, often find it harder to quit using addictive substances, and are more susceptible to relapse. These gender differences can affect treatment."

Physiologically women metabolize alcohol and drugs differently than men. They tend to feel effects faster and damage to physical organs (including the brain) occur more rapidly.

However, those physical effects "may pale in comparison to the emotional and spiritual damage done by addiction," explains Brenda LLiff in an article for Psychology Today. "When a woman is addicted it can impact the entire family system - since women are generally the central organizing factors in their network (caregiver to aging parent, parent to children, caregiver of older partner, etc)."

Facing stigmas

Drugabuse.gov reports that in 2013, only 2.5 million of 22.7 million Americans sought treatment for a drug or alcohol problem. Unfortunately, a high percentage of addicts choose not to seek help simply because of the stigma associated with addiction.

Although addiction can certainly be damaging, it’s even more so when paired with the fear of being stigmatized. Simply put, stigma is hopelessness resulting in helplessness.

The problem can be acute for women who fear losing or being separated from their families. They are also embarrassed to admit they are struggling with addiction and hide their drug or alcohol use from family and friends.

Finding hope

For addicts to succeed in overcoming addiction, they must get help. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking that first step even though you can’t see the whole staircase.”

Recovery requires sincere relationships that are full of unconditional love, truth and honesty. Addiction is not a matter of willpower or a lack of a moral compass, but a real illness that requires professional help. People in addiction need support to recover. There is no recovery in isolation, only grief and despair.

The sooner a person leaves the pit of isolation and retreats to the open arms of support, the better. Addiction is an actual illness, not a character flaw. The more people that realize this, the more headway everyone can make in overcoming addiction.

If you or someone you love is battling addiction and needs help, contact Renaissance Ranch at 1-855-736-7262 to obtain a free consultation.

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