The Power of Acceptance: Embracing Change for a Brighter Future
Aconcerning new trend shows that women are struggling more than ever withalcohol abuse, but still receiving less treatment for alcoholaddiction.
Accordingto a study by the Research Society on Alcoholism earlier this year, researchersfound that among those with alcohol-related cirrhosis (a serious liver diseasethat’s one of the most severe complications of alcoholism), women were less likely thanmen to receive substance abuse treatment. Even more alarming was the fact thatthe rates of women diagnosed withdrinking-related cirrhosis spiked 50 percent between 2009 to 2016.
In many ways, we’re living in a modern worldwhere men and women now share many familial and financial obligations. Butwomen still tend to bear the brunt of child care responsibilities and thereforehave less earning opportunities, which makes it harder for them to spend timeor money on the treatment they need.
Women have a host of concerns that play intotheir hesitation to enter alcohol rehab. They may not want to enter treatmentfor fear their children will be taken away from them. They may have spouses whoalso have alcohol use disorders and therefore are victims of domestic abuse,which can create an additional obstacle in seeking treatment. Or they maysimply not want to relive the trauma that sparked their problem drinking in thefirst place, given that women who have alcohol disorder issues are more likely to have ahistory of sexual abuse.
Because alcoholism is usually seen asprimarily affecting men, women may be overlooked when it comes to gettingdiagnosed. And when they do seek treatment, women may find their healthconcerns downplayed or dismissed by their doctor. As it turns out, healthcare providers may have implicit biases that affect theway women are heard, understood and treated.
“It’s a huge issue in medicine,” says Dr. Tia Powell, a bioethicist anda professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at Albert EinsteinCollege of Medicine in New York. “Medical schools and professional guidelinesare starting to address this problem, but there’s still much to be done.”
In 2017,the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that high-risk drinking – defined asfour or more drinks, at least one per day per week during the previous 12months – increased by almost 60 percent from 2001-2002 to 2012-2013.
Theproblem with this increase in alcohol abuse is that women tend to experience morealcohol-related medical issues than men, even if they’ve been drinking for a significantlyshorter length of time.
First,women process alcohol differently than men, because they have lower levelsof the two enzymes that metabolize alcohol, resulting in faster alcoholabsorption in the bloodstream. Alcohol dependence alsodevelops faster in women than in men, as does alcohol-induced organ injury,such as liver disease and brain damage.
Breast cancerrisk can increase by 5 to 9 percent as a result of heavy drinking. And, becausewomen generally weigh less than men, their bodies have less water and morefatty tissue. Fat retains alcohol, while water dilutes it, so women’s organsincur more injury.
Ultimately,women’s alcohol-related mortality rates are 50 to 100 times higher than men dueto liver damage, suicide or alcohol-related incident.
AUniversity of Michigan study came out over 30 years ago that uncovered howsociety seems to have a more negative view of women struggling with alcoholabuse - and that stigma is still alive and well today.
“Accordingto some experts,” reports Savannah Stewart in a piece exploring social pressures thatprevent women from getting the help they need, “this stigma comes from the role wecommonly attribute to women: that of a mother or caregiver, who should upholdthe morals of society. It’s also been attributed to the fact that women whoexcessively drink are often stereotyped as being sexually promiscuous, anassociation we do not make for men in the same situation.”
It’s notunusual for anyone with an alcohol use disorder to have a co-occurring mentalhealth disorder. But men are more likely to report these issues than women, whotend to suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders and trauma- andstress-related conditions.
Regardlessof gender, people with addictions often experience rejection and isolation. Aswe evolve, it’s important to work on changing the societal beliefs that shamewomen struggling with alcoholism, so there’s less of a hurdle to overcome whenthey decide to reach out for help.
Expertsrealize that alcohol treatment methods need to be tailored to women’s needs tobe truly effective. For example, if a woman has suffered domestic abuse orviolence, she may not feel safe openly discussing her feelings or issues in alarger mixed-sex group.
At Serenity Vista, we take extra care to create a safe, accepting and intimate environment so women can feel comfortable exploring their issues and creating deep transformations. We accept a maximum of six guests at a time, so your treatment experience can be completely personalized.
At our serene sanctuary in Panama, a safe and progressive country that offers much more affordability than the US, you’ll have the opportunity to start anew with such undivided attention that your healing is amplified, so that you can return to your family even sooner.
And, ifyou are experiencing any concerns around depression, anxiety or trauma, ourdedicated team of compassionate American and Canadian counselors, facilitators,and holistic therapists here to thoughtfully support you through your healingjourney.
If you’reready to live the life you have dreamed of and deserve, contact us today to learn how we can help.
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