Skip to content
Addiction & Women: A Detailed Guide

Substance Abuse Among Women: Statistics & Help

Until as recently as two decades ago, most information and research related to substance abuse and dependence focused on men. Information regarding women and addiction began to come to light once various agencies within the United States began requiring federally funded studies to enroll more women in research studies related to addiction. Since this time, much has been learned about addiction in women and how gender impacts some types of addiction.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE & WOMEN

An Introduction to Drug Addiction in Women

Historically, men have exhibited significantly higher rates of substance use, abuse, and dependence. However, in recent years the gap between men who struggle with addiction and women who experience similar struggles has narrowed. When it comes to substance abuse disorders, the terminology is important. It is valuable to understand the difference between a few key terms used with frequency in the forthcoming paragraphs.

Substance Abuse

Abuse is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) as the use of a substance excessively on a regular basis, despite incurring legal problems. This excessive use often results in legal issues, self-endangerment, loss of relationships, and failure to address major responsibilities. Those who abuse substances do not yet show signs of dependence.

Dependence

According to the DSM, people who are dependent on a substance exhibit at least three specific symptoms over a period of time. These symptoms include greater tolerance for a substance, withdrawal symptoms, ongoing desire to quit using, loss of control over substance use, preoccupation with substance use, and continuing use despite adverse consequences.

Addiction

The term addiction incorporates elements of both substance abuse and dependence. Symptoms of addiction involve the inability to control the use of a particular substance, continuous cravings, and continued use despite negative outcomes.

Although men are more likely to become addicts, women do experience challenges associated with substance abuse and addiction.  Also, women face challenges related to substance abuse in other respects. Women often progress more quickly through substance use to arrive at addiction. Women also generally develop medical or social consequences related to addiction faster than men, often find it more challenging to quit using and are more susceptible to relapse after completing a women’s drug rehab program or a traditional rehabilitation program not explicitly geared towards women.  

OUR SERVICES IN ORANGE COUNTY

Women's Addiction Treatment Center.

ADDICTION BY THE NUMBERS

Statistics of Substance Abuse in Females

Addiction and abuse statistics remain predominantly higher among men of all ages; however, this does not mean women are not susceptible to addiction. A recent study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows almost five percent of women in the United States were considered to have (or diagnosed with) an alcohol use disorder. Also, twenty-three percent of women are addicted to nicotine. As with alcohol, women generally have a harder time quitting and are more likely to resume smoking after quitting than their male counterparts. Women, however, are almost equally as likely to abuse illegal substances as men. This includes drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Women also report starting the use of these substances at a younger age than men. Women are also more likely than men to abuse prescription opioids. 

Drugs Women Abuse

Overall, women are less likely to seek treatment for substance abuse disorders and addiction than men. The reasons behind this are not clearly understood. Still, there are several theories, including stigma, fear of being away from home (leaving children, etc.), co-occurring mental health disorders, or a history of trauma. For some women, treatment at a women’s addiction treatment center may be beneficial. At Anchored Tides, our program is designed for women with care provided by women. A program designed in this way offers a sense of safety and security for women who have experienced past trauma or are otherwise concerned about seeking treatment at a traditional co-ed program. 

DON'T WAIT ANY LONGER...
BEGIN YOUR RECOVERY TODAY.
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES

Drug Addiction in Men vs. Women

For many years, addiction research focused primarily on men. Men were the only participants in studies. Consequently, much of what the medical and addiction treatment community understood about substance abuse treatment centered around this understanding of how addiction impacts men. This has led to years of struggles for women regarding seeking and receiving treatment and understanding how substances affect women.

As a general rule, men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Many studies show the rate is almost double; however, the rates at which women abuse substances is increasing year after year. There are a few reasons why use rates among men and women differ. These include the impact of society (childcare responsibilities, addiction stigma, etc.) and biological factors (hormones, body size, and body composition). Harvard Medical School defines the notable differences between addiction in men and women center around susceptibility, recovery, and risk of relapse.  

Susceptibility

Women are more likely to transition from substance abuse to dependence and addiction at a faster pace. Women are also more likely to self-medicate with illicit substances. Men are more likely to become addicts and abuse substances due to peer influence. 

Recovery

Women are more likely to experience adverse side effects related to substance abuse, including liver damage and overdose. Men are likely to experience more intense withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol withdrawal than women. 

Risk of Relapse

Women are more likely to experience intense cravings and relapse, whereas the risk of relapse for men is less likely.

THE DANGERS OF ACTIVE ADDICTION

How Substance Use Affects Women’s Health

Alcohol and drug addiction can result in significant adverse medical consequences for women. As previously noted, women often develop medical problems faster than men, often find it more challenging to quit, and are more susceptible to relapse after completing a treatment program, whether at a women’s treatment center or another type of program.
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES

Statistics Behind Women’s Health and Addiction

YOUR JOURNEY BEGINS HERE.

Don't Wait Any Longer.

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES

How Mental Health Worsens Addiction

womens-substance-abuse-andmental-health

Mental health conditions and addiction-related disorders present significant challenges when faced individually. When combined, the symptoms and emotional difficulties can be overwhelming.  Women are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. All people, regardless of gender who struggle with a mental illness, are more likely to abuse substances than others who do not share the same struggle. The presence of a mood disorder makes quitting and maintaining sobriety more challenging, then it would be without a co-occurring mental health diagnosis.

Research also shows a strong connection between disordered eating and substance abuse disorders. Among individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, a staggering eighty-five to ninety percent are female. Up to fifty percent of those diagnosed will also have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. 

Women are more likely to experience traumatic events, which creates a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses among females. Also, rates of sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence are far higher for female victims than males. A large number of women who have been victims of a violent crime such as those listed previously are likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. According to studies, almost thirty-five percent of those with post-traumatic stress disorder are also diagnosed with at least one substance use disorder. 

Mental health conditions and addiction-related disorders present significant challenges when faced individually. When combined, the symptoms and emotional difficulties can be overwhelming.  Women are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. All people, regardless of gender who struggle with a mental illness, are more likely to abuse substances than others who do not share the same struggle. The presence of a mood disorder makes quitting and maintaining sobriety more challenging, then it would be without a co-occurring mental health diagnosis.

Research also shows a strong connection between disordered eating and substance abuse disorders. Among individuals diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, a staggering eighty-five to ninety percent are female. Up to fifty percent of those diagnosed will also have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. 

Women are more likely to experience traumatic events, which creates a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses among females. Also, rates of sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence are far higher for female victims than males. A large number of women who have been victims of a violent crime such as those listed previously are likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. According to studies, almost thirty-five percent of those with post-traumatic stress disorder are also diagnosed with at least one substance use disorder. 

WHERE TO TURN WHEN YOU NEED HELP

Programs That Can Help  Women Struggling with Addiction

Historically, substance abuse treatment programs have been designed around men’s needs as derived from studies with male participants. It wasn’t until recently that treatment professionals and the medical community began to promote treatment geared towards the needs women face, which can be drastically different from those of men. There are several factors specific to women that need to be considered when developing a treatment plan. For these reasons, treatment for women should and will look different than it does for men. It needs to in order to be effective. Women and their families should seek out women’s treatment centers, which take into account specific needs that may arise, such as childcare, economic support, and considerations for previous trauma-related events.
LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF & LIFE

How Anchored Tides Can Help

Unfortunately, women are less likely to seek treatment for substance use disorders than men. Whether this relates to stigma, economic concerns, concerns for their family, or fears born out of past events, women struggle to receive the treatment they need for substance abuse and addiction as well as co-occurring mental health difficulties that often arise out of addiction. At Anchored Tides, our women-centered team understands the challenges faced by women seeking addiction treatment. Our treatment philosophy strives to ensure those who come to our program feel safe, valued, and, most of all, welcome in an environment where their recovery is our top priority. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, don’t continue to fear seeking treatment. Achieve sobriety at Anchored Tides where we provide treatment for women, by women.

Christian Gibbs

Music Group / Rock 2 Recovery

Bio Coming Soon…

Jennifer Hojnacki

Social Worker / Case Management - ACSW

Bio Coming Soon…

Maryam Ashraf

Primary Therapist - ACSW

Bio Coming Soon…

Hillary Delira

Program Director

Bio Coming Soon…

service dogs

Bunny & Murphy

Registered Emotional Support Animals

Bunny is a 3yo male French Bulldog and Murphy is a 6yo female Shiba Inu. Both of these pups have been raised at Anchored Tides and grew up handing out love and support to our clients. They have the wonderful ability to sense when someone needs a little extra love, some playful puppy time, or just a companion to sit and hold space while they are processing something. 

Murphy’s favorite treatment activities are Lunch, Reiki, Process group, and sitting in on individual sessions. Bunny’s favorite activities are Lunch, DBT, and also sitting in on individual sessions. When they aren’t working, Murphy likes to play with her little brother (who is not a support animal), go on hikes, dig holes, sleep and eat. During Bunny’s time off, he likes to destroy squeaky toys, play with his nerf dog gun, and sleep.

They (and we) believe that animals are essential in providing emotional support. Studies have shown that some of the benefits of having an ESA include enhancing calm and relaxation, alleviating loneliness, enhancing social engagement and interaction, normalizing heart rate and blood pressure, and reducing stress, pain, anxiety, and depression. They are an important part of the holistic approach at ATR to make everyone feel loved and comfortable as they walk through their recovery journey.

Kelli Easley

Director of Marketing & Admissions

Kelli Easley comes to Anchored Tides bringing with her over seventeen years of experience in the field of addiction. Her unwavering passion to help others stems from her commitment to give back after overcoming her own 17-year addiction. She holds certifications in both Chemical Dependency and Family Development.Kelli had the good fortune of training under a well-respected interventionist, and therapists this has only strengthened her expertise in working with both individuals and families. Kelli is
currently working towards a degree in Business Administration along with being a loving mother to her husband, and two sons. In her free time, Kelli is active in the recovery community and lends her support to nonprofit organizations to help those in underserved communities.

– “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” – C.S. Lewis

Amy Dutton

COO / Co-Founder

Amy moved to California from Florida in 2011 to begin her journey into a life of recovery. Amy started to gain her spirit back while helping others and that’s when she found her life’s purpose. Amy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology from Chapman university. Amy has also completed her CAADAC degree at Centaur university. Amy truly believes being outside and in touch with nature helps with self-destructive behaviors, which she considers to be the key to her personal recovery. After years of owning and operating a successful women’s sober living, Amy really saw the need for gender-specific aftercare. Amy Dutton and Becca Edge teamed up to create Anchored Tides Recovery.

William Nephew

Rock To Recovery

William Nephew has been a singer/songwriter for over 20 years. He achieved some notable success early in his career with emo/rock band Jack’s Broken Heart, which won a San Diego Music Award in 2001, toured the continental United States, and shared the stage with acts like The Mars Volta and Jimmy Eat World. Having a strong passion for the arts, William earned a B.A in Cinema production. Following completion of his degree at San Francisco State University, William worked on film/tv projects for major Hollywood production companies including Sony and Universal Pictures.

Williams addiction began at an early age and followed a slow and steady progression. Eventually, William knew he had to make a change. With the help of drug and alcohol treatment, William got sober on May 26th, 2014. He has been sober ever since. William’s talent as a singer/songwriter, passion for the healing power of music, and the struggles of his past make him an outstanding program administrator for Rock to Recovery. He believes in the strength of creative expression as an extremely effective tool to cope with overwhelming emotions in early sobriety because William was actually in Rock to Recovery groups as a CLIENT before he became a program facilitator. William is also a certified CADC-I drug and alcohol counselor by the state of California.

Nate Lawler

Above Water

Above Water Adventures was created to provide a fun, healthy, and constructive outlet for young adults, corporate employees, and those in early recovery. We strive to facilitate a safe and (often) exhilarating setting to push through boundaries and break down barriers. Recovery is not for the faint of heart, it requires courage, willingness, and an innate desire to change. We’re here to offset some of the inherent weight carried during the initial steps of that journey. Our mission is to bolster support and fellowship — and above all, help clients recognize that adventure, fun, and zest for life starts in recovery — not the other way around.

Tracy Dunn

Interventionist / Relationships & Co-Dependency

Tracy Dunn is a National Interventionist and Addiction Coach who has received training at the Crossroads Recovery Coaching Academy of Seattle Washington and The Addiction Academy in Miami Florida. As the daughter of Roger Dunn of the Roger Dunn Golf Stores, Tracy knows all too well the dramatic impact that fame and addiction can have on the family system. Her professional training partnered with over 32 years of sobriety has led Tracy to be deeply committed to both saving and changing the lives of those struggling with addiction and alcoholism and their families.

As a group facilitator, she works collaboratively with her clients to help them focus on the action they will need to take to recognize the vision they will have for themselves. As an interventionist, she has helped many families to overcome the paralyzing grip of addiction by teaching accountability, compassion, and the other tools needed to break the cycle of addiction and maintain sobriety. Tracy works with the media, treatment facilities, interventionists, therapists, and addiction psychiatrists and consults with treatment facilities. Her dedication to saving lives has given a dynamic voice of recovery to those who had previously given up hope, and the belief that they are able to create their own successes.

Dawn Narvaez

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Eating Disorder Specialist

Dawn has been providing individual nutritional counseling and group counseling for more than 20 years. Her approach has been to work beyond education and training, focusing on real-life practical applications and tools. Through it all, Dawn creates an open and encouraging environment to help her clients process successes and overcome setbacks by helping them establish new habits of their own that don’t disrupt their regular lifestyle.

Katie van Heerden

Clinical Therapist

I am Katie van Heerden, a licensed marriage and family therapist, currently conducting individual and group therapy at ATR using CBT and EMDR modalities. My passion for working with those struggling with addiction and mental health is a personal one. I, myself, grew up in a family system of addiction and mental health issues with little knowledge of what to do or how to recover. This drove me to further my education in mental health disorders, first by obtaining my BA in psychology from Cal State University Fullerton, then my Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. While the knowledge I have obtained in school is extensive, my personal journey through life and all of its struggles have led me to the conclusion that anyone can recover if given 2 things: resources and support. When asked what keeps me going in this field, after 10+ years, I typically respond; “I am merely a farmer. I plant the seeds, nourish when necessary, and give space to allow growth.” Watching clients transform into better versions of themselves is not only rewarding but inspiring. It is a “job” I never take for granted.

Michelle King

Operations Manager

Michelle has been a part of the Anchored Tides family since 2018. Michelle is an empathetic individual who finds connection with each client. Her goal is to help women feel understood and see that long-term recovery is possible. Michelle obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brandman University and is working towards her masters in social work. Michelle is passionate about helping others and considers it an honor to be a part of a treatment team who believes the client’s care is the first priority. In her spare time Michelle loves going to concerts, camping, and road trips.

Tonia Stephens

Clinical Director & Clinical Outreach - LCSW

I was born and raised in Orange County, California. I found myself needing substance abuse treatment in 2010. After learning tools of recovery and receiving treatment I was able to go back to school at age 41 and earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and a Master’s Degree in Social Work with an emphasis on Community Mental Health from California State University Fullerton. Getting clean and sober opened the door to a life full of opportunity and hope. I am currently pursuing licensure in the State of California to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
I have the unique opportunity to work as an Associate Clinical Social worker in a treatment setting. My role is to assist with helping each Client master Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills that allow them to emotionally regulate, tolerate distress, live a more meaningful life, and improve their ability to effectively communicate. I come alongside the Clients and help them address life issues that range from food assistance, legal matters, tax issues, creating resumes, budgeting, medical and dental appointments, organizing, studying skills, applying to schools, and finding employment. I assist them with integrating their recovery tool belt with the stressors of life in order to set them up for success once they leave treatment.
I wished that I had a social worker when I was in treatment. Some of my most difficult times were trying to take care of anxiety-provoking adult tasks in early sobriety. I am passionate about my role in these human’s lives and I see it as my honor to be part of their brief journey here at Anchored Tides Recovery. I love my job and I love teaching individuals how to be sober, navigate life, and enjoy being themselves maybe for the first time.

Macy Miller

Admissions Coordinator

Being the first point of contact for women seeking aftercare for their recovery in alcohol and drug addiction; I am driven & passionate about helping them with their next steps. I have always been passionate about helping others & this position allows me to see those dreams come to life.

You can always find me in nature during my self care time, usually hiking, roller skating by the beach, or surfing the waves. I enjoy music to feed my soul & get grounded. I lead a healthy & holistic way of living that I enjoy sharing with others.

Rebecca Edge

CEO / Co-Founder

Becca Edge is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. She is no stranger to mental health and substance abuse issues in her family, and she herself also struggled with addiction and moved to California to commit herself to treatment. She has been in long-term recovery since 2010. After much success in the corporate world, Rebecca started a sober living home as a “passion project” to provide women with a safe place as they re-enter the world as sober members of society. She noticed that there weren’t many aftercare programs dedicated to women’s sobriety or supporting them with the various co-occurring disorders that pop up once women are free from drugs and alcohol. So in 2016, Rebecca partnered with Amy to create a safe, therapy-focused place where women can heal from their addictions, trauma, and other issues while growing into who they were always meant to be. Becca is passionate about helping women realize their worth and supporting/helping them navigate the next steps of their lives, all while helping them feel secure on their road to long-term recovery.
Call Now Button