The Impact of Oppression on Women’s Mental Health

impact of oppression against women

impact of oppression against women


It’s been over 100 years since women in the United States of America won the right to vote, and physical abuse against women became illegal. 

However, oppression against women is still felt strongly today. From household conversations to government decisions, the impact on mental health runs deep. 

According to national statistics, more than a century later, a third of US women have been victims of physical abuse at the hand of their partners. Meanwhile, a growing number of women are falling victim to disorders such as anxiety, depression, and addiction. 

A growing body of research suggests gender inequality and the systemized oppression of women contribute to disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. It begs the question – are we any closer to dismantling oppression against women and its devastating effects?  


What Does Oppression Against Women Look Like Today? 

Societal sexism is woven into the fabric of our daily lives. We hear it in subtle ways; the way supervisors might speak to women in meetings, how filmmakers portray heroines in movies, and the expectation of mothers versus fathers.  

It also manifests in more obvious ways– pay discrepancies, psychological, sexual, and physical abuse. 

Decades of research show women as the more oppressed, victimized, and marginalized gender in every corner of the world. 

Sadly, mental disorder and addiction statistics increasingly reflect this. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), women are:

  • About twice as likely to experience a depressive episode
  • Twice as likely to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder
  • Up to 10 times more likely to have an eating disorder
  • Twice as likely to suffer from a panic disorder 
  • More than twice as likely to develop PTSD.

The facts are stark and confronting. So, how does marginalization lead to these outcomes? 


Five ways oppression against women impacts mental health 

Societal expectations 

The daily pressures placed on women have continued mounting for decades. 

These pressures span workforce, household, and family structures, all upheld and reinforced by patriarchal systems and institutions. This can cause untold stress, which studies have linked to mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. High levels of stress over a prolonged period can contribute to poorer mental health outcomes and increase the risk of a severe mental illness. 


Psychological and physical abuse

While anyone can fall victim to psychological and physical abuse, it is widely considered gendered. According to the World Health Organisation, about 30% of women suffer abuse in their lifetime. From manipulation to severe physical and sexual abuse, its psychological implications can be tragic and long-lasting. Self-medication can become an escape for women who don’t feel safe or empowered to seek support elsewhere. 


Everyday discrimination 

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale found that women who feel discriminated against because of their gender have higher depression scores. This supports the idea that perceived discrimination and systemized oppression against women have a powerful impact on mental health. 


Barriers to mental health 

Between the expense of treatment and its stigma, support isn’t always easy to access. In addition, past trauma means some may not be comfortable sharing their experiences around men at support groups. 


Workplace discrimination 

Gender pay inequality has plagued workplaces worldwide, with female-dominated professions more likely to pay less(teaching, nursing, etc.). 

As more women juggle the demands of being the primary caregiver while navigating full-time jobs, the stress can be profound. 


Screen Shot 2022 01 28 at 21.03.08


The Addiction Cycle

The numbers paint a clear picture – psychological distress and addiction often overlap. And it can be deadly. Each year, approximately 200,000 women lose their lives due to misusing substances, according to Psychology Today. Over 4.5 million women are recorded as having a substance abuse disorder. It’s another tragic symptom of oppression against women that goes overlooked. The stigma has led millions of women to suffer in silence.

Here’s how oppression against women leads to addiction:


The brain craves relief from stressful thought patterns 

Women live in a world where they are generally less represented, safe, paid, and, ultimately, valued. From conversations to media – oppression against women is reinforced daily, impacting wellbeing. Self-medication and substance use – whether alcohol or other drugs – offer a dangerous, short-term escape from this reality. 


A lack of trust in the system 

When there is a lack of treatment available, women sometimes opt for self-medication. For example, if someone visits the doctor with declining mental health and her concerns are dismissed, she may not return if her circumstances worsen. A sense of helplessness and a lack of support can begin a pattern of self-medication that can evolve into addiction. 


Accessibility to treatment 

In 2010, a study found that women are far more likely than men to face multiple barriers when seeking treatment. From doctor’s appointments and prescription medication to therapy – it’s something not everyone can afford. Too often, self-medication poses a short-term escape for women struggling with mental health. 


Shame and stigma 

A deep-rooted sense of shame can compel women to be secretive about their substance use and become less likely to seek help. A study found that women feel a more significant stigma about substance abuse, impacting their recovery. While it differs for each person, patriarchal attitudes towards women and their household roles can exacerbate this shame and stigma. For example, a mother may not seek support if she fears being called a bad or careless mother. 


Harming to Healing – What’s the Answer? 

There’s no doubt that support and treatment are vital to those struggling with poor mental health and addiction. With more options now available to meet the growing demand, treatment is becoming more accessible. As the shame surrounding addiction reduces, more people feel comfortable reaching out for support, even if it’s through a friend or family member. 

Our facility provides state-of-the-art care to women struggling with addiction. Our experts use a detailed treatment plan that targets the needs of each individual. If you are a woman that has been abusing drugs or medication, you do not need to suffer any longer. 

Call our Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 today to schedule a consultation and start improving the quality of your life. 

PTSD Symptoms in Women

PTSD symptoms in women

PTSD symptoms in women


PTSD symptoms in women can look different than how they manifest in men. These differences aren’t just actual post-traumatic stress disorder. Across the board, women may experience the symptoms of mental disorders differently than men. Understanding these sex differences is essential in diagnosis and treatment.

We delve into how you experience PTSD symptoms as a woman can differ and its role in addiction and substance abuse.


What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, develops following exposure to a scary, dangerous or shocking event. If you’re in a traumatic situation, it’s not abnormal to feel fear, anxiety, and even a sense of terror. Your body will launch a fight-or-flight response. The response is your body’s natural way of protecting you from harm and danger. Sometimes this initial response is called acute stress disorder. 

Most people will then recover from those initial fight-or-flight symptoms after the immediate threat of danger passes following exposure to trauma. When those symptoms don’t go away or maybe even worsen, you could have PTSD. If you believe you have symptoms, you should speak to a mental health professional. 

Possible risk factors include:

  • Living through something dangerous or traumatic such as sexual or physical abuse
  • Being physically hurt
  • Seeing someone else getting hurt
  • Seeing a dead body
  • Trauma during childhood
  • Feeling extreme fear or helplessness
  • Having little social support after the traumatic event
  • Dealing with additional stress after the event like losing your home or job
  • Having a history of drug or alcohol abuse 
  • A history of mental disorders 

According to mental health care providers, general symptoms of PTSD that we see in both men and women fall into one of four categories. 


Re-Experiencing Symptoms

These symptoms might include flashbacks, where you constantly relieve the traumatic event. Re-experiencing symptoms can also be physical. For example, you might have a racing heart. Bad dreams and ongoing scary thoughts fall into this category. We often talk about flashbacks in the context of combat veterans, but they can occur in anyone who’s gone through trauma. 

Your re-experiencing symptoms can create problems in your daily life. You may also feel like certain situations, words, objects, or even people remind you of the trauma, leading to re-experiencing symptoms.


Avoidance Symptoms

After you go through a traumatic event, if you have PTSD, you may develop avoidance symptoms. You might avoid the events, objects, and places that remind you of the event. You may prevent feelings or thoughts that relate to the trauma. Out of a desire to avoid reminders or triggers, you could completely change your daily routine.


Arousal and Reactivity

These physical symptoms can lead you to feel edgy or tense and have angry outbursts consistently. You might have physical health symptoms like problems sleeping, and you could startle easily. These symptoms are different from the other types because they’re constant and not usually triggered by anything.


Cognition and Mood Symptoms

These symptoms can lead you to feel alienated or withdrawn from your loved ones. You might have trouble remembering key facts of the traumatic event. These symptoms could lead you to negatively view yourself or the world, and you could have guilt or blame yourself. 

Cognition and mood symptoms also include a loss of interest in things you once found enjoyable. While it’s relatively normal to experience some or all of these symptoms as part of your reactions to trauma, if they last for more than a month, it might indicate you have PTSD.

Screen Shot 2021 08 27 at 18.31.41


Are PTSD Symptoms in Women Different?

PTSD symptoms in women may be different from what men experience. For example, PTSD symptoms in women are more likely to include being easily startled and feeling numb. You may have a hard time experiencing emotions. Avoidance is more common in women than men, and women with a history of PTSD are more likely to experience depression and anxiety than men.

The symptoms may last longer in women than men. For example, women have symptoms on average for four years, while men, on average, experience symptoms for a year. If you’re a woman with PTSD, you are less likely to have a drug abuse problem after the trauma compared to a man.


Is PTSD More Common in Males or Females?

There are gender differences in the prevalence of PTSD. Healthcare providers estimate that one in 10 women will develop symptoms of PTSD during their lifetime. As a woman, you are around twice as likely as a man to develop PTSD. The most common type of trauma women experience is sexual assault, and the rates are higher than in men. Women are also more likely to experience childhood abuse or domestic violence in their life, which can lead to PTSD.


Effective Treatments 

If you believe you have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, reach out and get help. There are excellent treatment options available, and they tend to be highly effective.

For example, the primary treatments are talk therapy and medication.

  • Medications include antidepressants to help with symptoms like worry, numbness, and sadness.
  • Talk therapy for PTSD usually lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. You can work one-on-one with a therapist or participate in group therapy.
  • The goals of talk therapy include learning about symptoms, beginning to identify triggers, and developing skills that help you manage your symptoms.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a specific type of talk therapy that we often use for PTSD. When you participate in CBT, you may go through exposure therapy. 
  • Exposure therapy will introduce you to the trauma in a prolonged, safe, and managed way. Then, from there, you can start to cope with your feelings more effectively.
  • Goals of any type of talk therapy include learning about the effects of trauma, developing relaxation skills, and dealing with feelings like guilt or shame.


What Happens when PTSD Is Not Treated?

We want to emphasize the risks of untreated PTSD. When you have untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s doubtful symptoms will just go away. Instead, what happens without treatment is that more complications and comorbidities can develop.

For example, not getting proper treatment and mental health care can make you susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, sleep problems, and depression. There are also links between not getting treatment and then developing chronic pain. Other long-term effects of PTSD that goes without treatment include:

  • Anger management issues—you may start to have angry outbursts. These anger problems can lead to violence in your life or the breakdown of relationships.
  • Loneliness—you may end up withdrawing from the people who care about you, leading to isolation.
  • Comorbid depression—this is a considerable risk of untreated posttraumatic stress disorder. Major depression can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
  • Substance abuse—the potential for substance misuse to occur is mentioned above, and we can’t overstate the risk of this. When you have any mental health condition for which you’re not getting treatment, it increases your risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem. The increased risk could be due to multiple factors. For example, if you’re not getting professional treatment, you might attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Also, the areas of the brain playing a role in mental disorders contribute to addiction.

The most powerful message we want you to take away from this is that you don’t have to suffer alone; if you’re a woman with posttraumatic stress disorder, Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Whether it’s stemming from sexual violence, military combat, substance abuse, or another traumatic event, we are here for you. Treatments are available to help improve your quality of life and relationships and lower your risk of developing complications like an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Contact us at 866-600-7709 to learn more.

Screen Addiction and Substance Abuse

screen addiction

screen addiction


Screen addiction and substance abuse are two things that are growing increasingly prevalent independently of one another. Sometimes, they also develop together, or one might come before the other. Many of the underlying factors that contribute to screen addiction also play a role in substance abuse.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in both screen addiction cases and substance abuse as well, highlighting the importance of discussing both right now.


What is Screen Addiction?

Screen addiction isn’t an addiction to the screen itself. Instead, it’s usually an addiction to social media, certain apps, video games, or mobile device dependence. Younger people, including children, are especially susceptible to screen addiction, which research shows can lead to changes in the structure of their brains. Screen addiction can impact long term neural development, which is one risk factor for a screen dependency disorder.

Some of the signs of screen addiction, especially in kids and teens, can include:

  • There’s no control over screen use. You may notice this in your child, your partner, or even yourself. You or your child or loved one might try to stop using a device and find that they’re not able to stop for an extended period.
  • With a screen addiction, there may be a loss of interest in other activities. For example, someone could stop spending time with friends to use their device instead or play a game.
  • Thoughts are preoccupied with a game, social media, or a smartphone, even when it’s not being used.
  • Screen use contributes to problems in relationships and conflict.


How Does Screen Time Change the Brain?

There was a study done by the National Institutes of Health in 2018 that found that children younger than 11 who spent more than two hours a day on screen activities scored lower on thinking and language tests. Children who had more than seven hours of time in front of a screen day had thinning in the frontal cortex of their brain. This is the part of the brain related to reasoning and critical thinking.

While more research needs to be done, this could show that the effects of screen time can change the brain in pretty profound ways by narrowing the focus.

Children can develop tunnel vision rather than experiencing a varied environment and different experiences, which impedes their development. Children who spend a lot of time on screens may have slow social and language development, and they may develop problems with attention and focus.


Understanding Behavioral Addictions

Screen addiction can fall into the larger category of behavioral addictions. Behavioral addiction is also called process addiction.

  • A process addiction can include video games and screen time, sex, exercise, eating, gambling or shopping.

Screen Shot 2021 07 09 at 19.49.28

  • There is debate as to whether or not “process addiction” should be classified in the same way as substance addiction, although we are increasingly finding similarities.
  • With both process and substance addictions, a person continues to engage in harmful or damaging activities, even with the negative consequences they create.
  • Studies have shown changes in the neural pathway of the reward system in the brain that are similar to behavioral and substance addictions. For example, if someone is addicted to social media and gets likes or comments, they might have a rush of dopamine that is the same as what someone addicted to drugs gets.
  • When the behavior becomes an addiction, the person is entirely focused on getting that dopamine rush again and again by doing the same activities. Once something reaches this point, it’s often destructive to relationships and every area of the person’s life.

Researchers have looked specifically at social media. For example, a study by Harvard University found that self-disclosure on social media platforms can light up the same parts of the brain that are affected by taking an addictive substance.

When you get a dopamine rush because of social media, your brain starts to be rewired due to positive reinforcement. You’re getting attention for very minimal work on your part.

Researchers have also found that our brain reward centers are most active when we talk about ourselves. When you’re on social media, and you’re sharing something about yourself or posting a picture of yourself, then your brain is again stimulated to release dopamine.



Does Screen Addiction Affect Substance Abuse?

There can be direct and indirect relationships between screen addiction and substance abuse.

For example, if the brain is wired to want easy dopamine spikes from screens, then that could make you more susceptible to chase the same high from substances. It could also be that the changes in your brain that occur because of screens make you more likely to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Someone who’s absorbed with screens may have impaired relationships with other people, leading them to rely on substances because of loneliness.

Another possible link between screen addiction and substance abuse is that if someone is regularly overstimulated, they might want to keep up that high level Screen Shot 2021 07 09 at 19.49.52of stimulation throughout their life. That can then contribute to a substance use disorder. There are a lot of ways screen addiction and substance use can interact with one another.


Getting Substance Abuse Treatment Without Screens

Interestingly, if someone is going for substance abuse treatment in an inpatient facility, they are often not allowed to use their phone and usually any other device. While all centers have their own rules, the idea is that cell phones and devices can distract people from their recovery during substance abuse treatment.

There’s also the fact that having screens and devices while you’re in substance abuse treatment can bring stress into your life so that you cannot fully put all of your attention into your recovery. Treatment centers for so long have been mainly against bringing devices to rehab. It may be that they were onto something, now that we see the negative ramifications of screen addiction. It’s also possible that some people dealing with their screen addiction could become part of their substance abuse treatment. 

8 Steps to a Happy Life

steps to a Happy Life

steps to a Happy Life


Did you know you are worth a happy life? Everybody deserves to be happy and in good mental health, but this may seem impossible for someone with chronic drug addiction. Taking steps to a happy life can be a real challenge if you also are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. However, anyone battling addiction can overcome their struggles by using the right tools and knowing their self-worth. Regardless of how you have fallen into the drug addiction trap, you can recover.

You can be happy living a life free from drug addiction by being understanding, loving, and compassionate. Whether you have been in recovery for years or are just starting on your journey, here are eight steps to a happy life that can help you become the person you were meant to be. 


8 Steps to a Happy Life 

1. Eat a Balanced Healthy Diet

Healthy eating is part of a balanced recovery plan. It not only helps your body repair itself after a time of abusing alcohol and drugs, but it also helps keep your body healthy so you can remain abstinent. The recovery process is a long journey. Make it easier on yourself by eating lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and of course, plenty of water. 


2. Exercise Regularly

If you want to eat healthier, sleep better, and rise more refreshed in the morning, regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can help Screen Shot 2021 06 18 at 19.16.47 200x300 1curb cravings, reduce stress, and give you higher energy levels. A few adjustments to diet and exercise can help lead the way to success. You won’t regret spending time exercising regularly.


3. Practice Mindfulness

Research shows that mindfulness can help people recover from addiction by overcoming negative feelings of guilt, anxiety, self-doubt, and stress. Mindfulness can also help people stay on track when they experience temptation. Meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, and other activities that can help you take an honest inventory of your journey toward sobriety will set the stage for a brighter future.


4. Explore New Hobbies

Life is full of activities that could spark great feelings within you. Do your part to discover new hobbies to replace harmful old hobbies. You don’t even need to spend money, try to take up a new sport or activity that you think is interesting. 

Positive hobbies can help you form friendships with positive role models. Examples of hobbies that are proven to help people feel happier and be helpful in the early stages of recovery are: 

  • Gardening
  • Photography
  • Scrapbooking
  • Journaling
  • Hiking
  • Knitting
  • Painting


5. Learn Stress Management Techniques

Good mental health is a work in progress, and living a happier life doesn’t always come easily. It’s crucial to have a plan in place, when you’re feeling stressed or have negative thoughts, to reduce the risk of relapse and cope with your negative emotions. Many recovering addicts use a technique called HALT. HALT refers to the following four situations that can lead to relapse: 

  • Hungry 
  • Angry 
  • Lonely
  • Tired 

It’s also a good reminder when you’re feeling any of these things to take care of yourself, not to experience stress overload. 


6. Make a Daily Schedule and Stick to it

Daily habits have a significant impact on your overall productivity. When you know what needs to get done, making a schedule for your day is an easy way to get it all done. From squeezing in extra time to work out to manage your time away from work and school, a good schedule regularly has a profound, positive effect on your life. 


7. Use Self-Love Affirmations

Learning to love again after experiencing trauma can be difficult, especially when you’re learning to love yourself. Positive affirmations for self love are a great way to remind yourself of your worth. When you’re feeling down, recovery affirmations can go a long way in lifting your spirits, try to use this tool at least two times a day. Some examples of affirmations are: 

  • I am strong enough to choose sobriety; 
  • My recovery is working; 
  • I have what I need inside me to get sober; 
  • I am filled with love; 
  • I am stronger than my addiction.

8. Surround Yourself with Positive People

Addiction is a powerful force, so choosing your friends wisely is an essential part of recovery. During the first years of sobriety, it’s best to surround yourself with positive and supportive people—people who will help you stay motivated on your journey. Even if they aren’t around you all the time, they will be there for you during challenges and hard times.


Leading a Happy Life is a Choice you Make

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to choose to live a happy life. Life is filled with millions of choices, but yours will ultimately determine how comfortable you are. Happiness is not the outcome of a good or bad situation but rather the result of our reactions toward negative or positive events. 

Screen Shot 2021 06 18 at 19.17.01

To lead a happier life, keep your thoughts and feelings in check, practice self-love, and find happiness in the small things surrounding your everyday life. Having positive thoughts about yourself can help you feel good and fulfilled.

Despite alcohol or drug addiction, you are worthy of love and happy life. You are welcome here at Anchor Tides recovery Center for a better way of life. We offer the most comprehensive outpatient treatment programs for alcoholism and drug addiction in one location. We emphasize early intervention and education to create lasting recovery results.

Our holistic approach to substance abuse recovery includes individualized treatments, eating disorders assessment, holistic therapies, recreation programs, and support groups. Please share our goal of helping you find your happiness through sobriety and call us at 1-866-753-5865 and choose to stop your cycle of addiction.

Addiction and Employment: Get Help, Don’t Get Fired

addiction and employment

It’s common to feel that addiction and employment do not mix very well and is a severe problem. The American Addiction Centers estimates that there are 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs, including thousands of working professionals. It’s good to know that when it comes to addiction and employment, there are resources that can help you overcome your struggles without having to sacrifice your career. Read on to find out more about some of these programs. 

Getting into a rehab program during employment is possibly the world’s most pervasive and damaging vice. The treatment programs address the substance abuse problem and manage any co-occurring disorders among the addicts.


How does Addiction Affect your Employment? 

The answer lies in the effect that addiction has on one’s job security. One significant impact is that those struggling with addiction are more likely to be fired from their jobs, often because they struggle with attendance and job performance. Addiction harms not only the individual employee but also the family and employers of the individual as well.

There are two types of workplace problems common to people struggling with an addiction: substance abuse and absenteeism. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA; funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) classifies substance abuse into functioning categories, including no or low impairment, moderate impairment, and high impairment. A person with a dependent or abusive problem is considered to have a high level of impairment if he or she has lost or been dismissed from a job where s/he used to be productive.

girl with her hands on her face


How to Handle an Alcoholic Employee?

An alcoholic employee is someone who abuses alcohol to the point it affects their work. This can take place at any time of day and not just during work hours. Despite the prevalence of drug use in the U.S., both before and during the current recession, many employers are uninformed about how to handle a worker who struggles with an addiction problem.

It’s essential to know the signs that an employee may be drinking as an alcoholic to handle the situation appropriately.


Analyze the effect of employee’s addiction problem at the workplace

Each case is unique, so have a clear sense of the threat your employee’s drug or alcohol use poses to your company. Is your employee creating a direct physical danger in the workplace? 

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), one-fifth of workers and managers report that a coworker’s alcohol problems have jeopardized their safety and productivity. The action of someone who is intoxicated in the workplace can place other employees and property at risk. If an employee’s substance abuse has caused injury to you, your coworkers, or your employer’s property, that’s grounds for termination.


Consult the company’s Human Resources policy

If an employee shows up drunk and disorderly at the office, what is the proper reaction? Having an HR (Human Resource) policy with clear guidelines in place will help you act swiftly and appropriately. While the specifics of each policy may vary across businesses and industries, all procedures should have a zero-tolerance approach to drugs or alcohol in the workplace. 

Distribute a company manual to everyone hired at a new location. The manual should outline company policies, procedures, and practices, including any drug or alcohol policy that may legally prohibit the possession or consumption of an illegal substance by employees. 


Evaluate how substance abuse is affecting the employee’s job performance

If you suspect that one or more of your employees are using drugs, it’s essential to investigate, and possibly perform a drug test. Before you take disciplinary action against an employee, it is good to evaluate the reason for their job performance. Ask yourself if their job performance is due to substance abuse; what can you do about it? 

If drug abuse affects the individual’s job performance, it is in your best interest to terminate employment. Reducing turnover and absenteeism and increasing productivity can add up to considerable long-term savings for you.


Assess employee’s level of substance abuse problem ownership and motivation to change

If your employee uses drugs or alcohol on the job, you can help them without violating their rights or exposing yourself to legal risk. The Employee Motivation to Address Substance Abuse Questionnaire (EMASAQ), in conjunction with the Personal Inventory Questionnaire (PIQ), offers an effective way for you to measure your employee’s ownership of their alcohol abuse problem. By assessing their level of ownership and motivation to change, you can craft an action plan that will have the greatest chance of success.


Job Protections Under Federal Law for employees during drug addiction treatment

If you are dealing with the disease of addiction to drugs or alcohol, or if you have a family member or friend who is, you should know that job protections under federal law are available if you’re considering different treatment options. 

girl drinking beer

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Family Medical Leave Act protect an employee’s rights to maintain their job while overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction. These laws outline what protections you are guaranteed, how to speak with your employer regarding your situation, and how the law may act in your favor if you are being discriminated against due to your drug use.

Additionally, in 2003, the Board of Nursing created RAMP (Recovery and Monitoring Program) as an alternative to the Discipline program. RAMP offers confidential, voluntary support to health care nurses recovering from alcohol or drug dependency. Nurses work with employers and close colleagues while at treatment facilities; here they can receive the appropriate treatment for their recovery and rapid reinstatement.

Addiction affects every aspect of your major life activities negatively, but it doesn’t have to end your employment dream. Contact us at Anchored Tides Recovery Center. A gender-specific rehab center and a place for women to heal will help you fulfill the emptiness and free yourself from the addiction that has hurt you and those around you. Understanding the illness and having a strategy are keys to staying employed while battling addiction. 

Getting into a drug addiction treatment center program during employment can be challenging, and we want to make sure that you get the help you need. Get informed on addiction and employment issues today, and call us to learn more about our therapy sessions and support groups to achieve sobriety.


How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your System?

how long does marijuana stays in your system.

how long does marijuana stays in your system.


When asking “How long does marijuana stay in your system?” the answer depends on a number of factors. Detection times may vary depending on the dose of marijuana and the testing method. Read on to learn how long marijuana stays in your urine, blood, saliva, and hair.  


What are Marijuana Tests and Why Might You Need Them?

Marijuana can impair your focus, memory, and performance. Thus, your employer, or sometimes, the police, may require you to get tested for it. Drug tests help detect THC or marijuana metabolites (tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid; THC-COOH). 

How long does marijuana stay in your system correlates with the detection window. The detection window is the period between drug use and a positive test result. This definition can also include the period between the first positive and second positive tests. 

Several factors affect how long marijuana (cannabis) stays in your system. These include:

  • Body fat percentage: THC, the main compound in marijuana, stays longer in a fat person than a skinny person. THC stands for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol 
  • Genetics: Some people excrete THC more rapidly than others
  • Method and frequency of use: Frequent users retain THC for more extended periods than infrequent users
  • Type of the testing method (urine, blood, saliva, or hair)
  • Concomitant use of other drugs that affect liver enzymes
  • The strength of marijuana and its form of use


A Quick Overview of Marijuana Addiction, Use, and Trends in the United States 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and CDC, 

  • Marijuana is the third most frequently used addictive substance in the U.S., after tobacco and alcohol. 
  • Marijuana-involved ED visits increased by 21% from 2009 to 2011. 
  • Each month, there are about 22.2 million active users.
  • Adult marijuana use was highest in the District of Columbia (27.42%) and lowest in South Dakota (11.13%) between 2018 and 2019. 
  • About 10% of the users eventually develop marijuana addiction. 
  • Studies have linked chronic or frequent use to a higher risk of psychosis or schizophrenia in some users.


Tests used to determine how long does marijuana stay in your system can check your:

  • Urine
  • Blood 
  • Saliva (oral fluids)
  • Hair


The results can vary depending on:

  • The pattern of marijuana use (frequency and duration of use)
  • Sample collection time (some tests cannot detect recent use)
  • Method of testing 


Marijuana Urine Testing

This is the confirmatory test for marijuana. It does not detect THC, as THC is rapidly removed through the urine. Instead, it measures the amount of THC-COOH. THC-COOH is detectable in urine within 60 minutes to 4 hours after you use marijuana and shows how long does marijuana stay in your system.

marijuana urine testing

Having THC-COOH in the urine can mean two things. 

  1. Marijuana use within the last three days (for infrequent users)
  2. Use in the previous 30 days (for long-term heavy users) 


The detection windows for marijuana (THC-COOH) in urine samples are:

  • Three days following single-use
  • Five days if you use it four times a week 
  • Ten days if you use it every day
  • Thirty days if you have been using it daily for several months


  • Urine contains high amounts of metabolites 
  • A well-established and non-invasive testing method 
  • Point-of-care tests are available. 


  • The detection window is short or intermediate
  • Risk of sample adulteration
  • You may find it difficult to collect urine if you have something called “shy bladder” syndrome.


Marijuana Blood Testing

In the blood sample, THC typically becomes detectable within 0.5 to 2 hours after use. The detection window for THC ranges from 2 to 8 hours. Likewise, the detection window for THCCOOH is 7 to 51 hours. 



  • Useful for detecting recent use 
  • Well-established laboratory test method 


  • Higher cost 
  • Narrow detection window 
  • An invasive procedure that may increase the risk of infection 
  • It may not be suitable for you if you have not palpable veins 


Marijuana Hair Testing

Marijuana hair testing generally gets used as a complementary test for urine, blood, and saliva analysis. It is because THC is fat-soluble, and the concentration in hair of how long does marijuana stay in your system is extremely low. 

marijuana hair testing

In general, one cm of hair segment from the root gives the amount of THC used in the last 30 days. THC can take up to 15 days to reach the hair shaft and is detectable for up to 90 days. 



  • Longest window of detection
  • May help assess changes in drug use over time 
  • Non-invasive procedure 



  • Not suitable for assessing recent use (Use within the last 7–10 days is not detectable)
  • Costly and time-consuming procedure
  • Only a few labs provide hair testing 
  • Point-of-care tests are not available 
  • Single-use may not show up 
  • Hair color may affect the results 
  • Close contact with a marijuana user may transfer THC-COOH to your hair, increasing the likelihood of a false-positive result.


Marijuana Saliva Testing

Among recreational or infrequent users, the THC detection window is a maximum of 24 hours. In chronic or frequent users, saliva testing may detect marijuana for up to 30 hours. 

saliva testing



  • Helpful in assessing recent use. THC becomes detectable within 10 minutes to 30 minutes after use
  • Non-invasive procedure
  • Point-of-care tests are available 



  • Marijuana levels in saliva may not correlate with blood concentrations 
  • The use of other drugs, such as stimulants, reduces saliva production 




Can you metabolize marijuana faster with detox remedies?

There is no evidence that detox remedies can speed up marijuana metabolism. However, in most cases, it’s the amount you use that determines how fast marijuana leaves your system. 


What happens if an athlete tests positive for marijuana?

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), an athlete who tests positive for marijuana get barred from competing for 365 days or more from the test date.


How long does marijuana stay in your system after just one hit?

Urine samples can contain detectable amounts of marijuana for up to 3 days in one-time users. 


Marijuana Addiction

This article was meant to be a resource to inform on the testing process of how long does marijuana stay in your system, and the process of how your body handles THC metabolites. If you’re trying to beat a marijuana test, there’s a good chance you have an addiction to marijuana. The truth is, while the drug may not be considered a “hard drug” or be illegal everywhere, it is still a drug and can potentially ruin your life. 

Just because marijuana is legal where you live doesn’t mean it can’t get you expelled from school, fired from a job, kicked off a sports team, or cause addiction. Chronic users who have been smoking marijuana for long lengths of time have reported problems sleeping, mental health issues, physical health issues, and even marijuana withdrawal when they can’t smoke. 

Since this drug is a form of substance abuse, like any other drug, there are support groups and resources to help overcome marijuana addiction.

Anchored Tides Recovery offers a number of options to help with marijuana addiction that focus on the whole person. Call us today and talk to one of our team about some treatments. 

Following The Principle of Love

Love Languages

Being loved is one of the most basic human needs. This fundamental truth is the starting point of understanding the root of many psychological problems that we face both as teenagers and adults. In many cases, it is also closely connected to why some people fall into addiction traps more easily than others. We all crave love languages. We all want to feel safe, admired, cared for, and when this basic need is not being met for a very long time, it causes several behavioral problems that affect a healthy, fulfilling life.

Love fills you with warm feelings of happiness, joy, belonging, safety, hope, positive energy, enthusiasm. When we lack all those elements in our daily lives, we begin to search for alternative solutions and get those feelings from artificial sources such as drugs or alcohol.


The Importance of Love Languages

Everything starts INSIDE you. This philosophy is probably one of the most important statements to understand and fully absorb. Without self-acceptance and self-love, you will never achieve true happiness and won’t form a healthy, stable relationship with another person.

The first step to self-love is understanding who you are. It’s crucial to fully get to know yourself and accept all your flaws and imperfections. Nobody is perfect. We all struggle with our insecurities, bad habits, and things we would like to improve, and that applies to both our personality and physical appearance. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you navigate life and accept yourself for who you truly are—a valuable human being full of unique capabilities. 

Self-love is not easy. So many times, we wish we were different. Slimmer, more pretty, stronger, more intelligent, talented, and the list goes on. We see people on TV or social media platforms who seem to have perfect lives and perfect families, and we feel like such failures trying to keep up with our own lives where so many things sometimes fall apart. And that’s precisely why loving yourself first is the starting point to everything else. Once you accept who you are, nothing from the outside world can threaten your confidence or identity.

woman with hand on her chest


The Process

Self-love doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a complex and often time-consuming process where you will encounter several ups and downs. But keep going and keep pushing. It’s worth it. 

Once you establish a confident and secure relationship with yourself, nobody will be able to take that away from you. 

The process of acceptance and self-care is based on a solid belief that you are worth a good life. One without limitations caused by addition, without guilt, and without the vicious circle of trying to break the substance abuse and going back to it in the moment of weakness. You will begin to develop a new you: stronger, more confident, and worth not only yours but another person’s love as well.


Love Languages

The concept of love languages (5 different ways of expressing and receiving love) was developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, a Southern Baptist pastor, and introduced in his 1992 book aimed mainly at married Christian couples. “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” has sold over 11 million copies in English and translated into 49 other languages.

Let’s have a closer look at this interesting concept. According to Gary Chapman, five universal love languages get used by all people. However, a person will usually relate to one primary love language:

  • Words of Affirmation 
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

All five languages are important and express love in their way. A healthy relationship would use a mix of those languages making sure that none of them is missing.

Since we are talking about self-love as the foundation of all other relationships and the key to establishing good mental health and fulfilling life. it is worth noticing that we can also apply love languages to other people and ourselves.


Let’s see a couple of examples below.

If you want to establish a positive relationship with yourself, you should have a couple of daily affirmations to make you feel confident and good about yourself. A simple but effective task to try is to find something that you like about yourself. Focus on that feature every time you see yourself in the mirror. 

Have something uplifting written in your bedroom; a little reminder to have a great day every single morning when you wake up. You will be surprised how valuable those little things can be if repeated regularly.

Quality time and receiving gifts are all about treating yourself how you would like to be treated. Make sure you get enough rest, meditate, take an hour or so every day, and spend it doing what you genuinely enjoy. When you are stressed and tired, you won’t see anything (including yourself) in a good light.

woman making a heart with her hands at the sun

Physical touch is an essential element of your relationship with your body. Learn to listen to what it needs and focus on all aspects that you like about yourself. Take care of your mind and body by exercising a couple of times per week and spending enough time outdoors.


Loving Your Life

If you are not happy with your life circumstances, you will keep looking for various ways to escape reality. This process can be gradual and includes several coping mechanisms, one of them being substance abuse.

To feel good and forget about your daily problems, you start searching for substances and behaviors that give you the feelings of joy, excitement, or quite the opposite—the feeling of peace, calmness, to the point of being numb and not feeling or thinking anything at all.

Once you discover that you can get those states of mind simply by using a particular drug, it’s tough to stop the vicious circle and break the forming addiction. 

Meditation, relaxation techniques, and daily exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle; they provide natural ways to control your emotions, keep you balanced, and get rid of accumulated negative energy or stress.


How to learn to love your life?

The first big step is acceptance and responsibility. Then you will slowly learn how to like it. Step by step. Put enough effort and energy into working on a positive mindset and keep improving your circumstances one day. 

You will get into a very blissful state of loving your life, with all its challenges and imperfections.

Just like everything else, it’s a process and for sure not an easy one. The reward at the end of this journey is worth it, though—it’s a peaceful, healthy life where you are in control of both your body and mind and you don’t need to rely on any substances to make you feel good. 

There will be no constant need to escape, no guilt, hate, sadness, or despair. It’s a beautiful state of confidence and balance, and with a strong belief that you can get there one day, nothing can stop you. There is a fascinating theory saying that love is already inside us. All we need to do is awaken it. Start this journey today. Small steps, choosing love every single day and discovering the inner strength that you didn’t even know existed. You can do it.


A Place for Women to Heal

Anchored Tides Recovery is an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility that is by women, for women. We believe creating this gender-specific environment allows an optimal opportunity for growth. Come create your support group of peers and see how much better can be when you’re sober and being lifted up by other women. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Women’s Rehab: Addressing the Fears

Women's rehab
Women's rehab

Substance use disorders affect men and women differently. When it comes to addiction, women face a more significant number of negative consequences and require a different approach when it comes to treatment. This is due to the difference in brain chemistry between a man and a woman. For these reasons, a women’s rehab can definitely be a comfortable environment to encourage growth. 

Additionally, research has shown that women want different things in their therapy than what men expect. These differences are precisely what makes an all-women rehab the right choice for many of today’s women who are struggling with sobriety. 

Why should I Attend a Woman’s Rehab?

Most addiction treatment facilities offer the chance for recovery from addiction and substance abuse in a completely sober environment without the pitfalls of alcohol or other drugs. Unlike traditional addiction treatment centers, an all-women rehab center will provide a unique approach to treatment that focuses on creating a supportive, non-judgmental community of women that can better understand and empathize with the challenges we all face during the process of recovering from drug abuse. 

Many women with addictions attempt to go through recovery without the help of others. A gender-specific recovery center offers a chance to create a strong community centered around the idea of support. Studies show that women tend to respond better to other women and heal faster when they are in gender-specific environments. 

All-women’s drug and alcohol rehabs are an excellent way for women to get sober, do the work needed to recover, and live their lives again. These facilities offer a safe haven without peer pressure or judgment; but for many women, the idea of going to an all-women rehabilitation facility can be daunting. These outpatient treatment programs can be scary for both women and their families, but here’s why an all-female rehab is a right path to recovery for many.

Addressing the Fears of Attending an All Women’s Rehab

Here is a list of some common fears about women’s rehab center and how to overcome them:

Putting Life on Pause

One of the major fears about going to a women’s program is having to leave behind their life – their job, their family, their home, their friends, but the actual experience can be different from what you imagined.

multiple personalities

A women’s rehab program will give you the tools to rebuild your relationships with these important people so that you can get back to your old life and live it free from stigma, social discourses, and addiction.

Women’s Rehabs are Less Fun

People often associate drugs and alcohol with having fun, and an alcohol rehab center can be a very depressing place if you seek thrills through drug use. 

Our concept at Anchor Tides Recovery Center is to design and create a women’s rehabilitation facility that incorporates a holistic approach to treatment. Lifestyle wellness is learned through services like therapy, yoga, healthy eating, and general fun. Our goal is to be an all-encompassing retreat where women can have fun while getting the help they need.

Confronting your Past Trauma

It is common for survivors to feel intense fear and even panic when faced with their past traumas during treatment. However, during rehab, confronting your past trauma is key to achieving– and maintaining– long-term sobriety. 

A gender-specific environment will provide a level of comfort that will encourage sharing. This process will help you reach personal growth and work towards a healthier, happier life.

Most people have four or more types of trauma in their childhoods and past, but it’s not just about looking back, because you can’t change the past. We’ll teach you tools to change the adverse effects of that trauma in the present so that you can move forward into the future with joy and purpose. You’ll learn to let go of regret and guilt, find forgiveness, let go of shame, and build self-esteem. 

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure during rehab is common. The client may have a fear of relapsing, and as a result, they put off treatment altogether. This fear comes from an underlying trauma; addressing the issue can help the fear and the feelings that stem from it. Understanding the risk factors when choosing an appropriate rehab center is key to achieving success. 

If you have the resources to get high, you most likely have the resources to complete your drug rehab treatment. If you make up your mind that you do not want to use drugs again, you won’t have a problem completing your drug rehab treatment and therapy sessions.

Inability to Handle Stress

Stress puts your rehab in jeopardy by signaling the body to use its most significant resources to survive a situation. Identifying the fear and substituting a more adaptive behavior is imperative to your successful recovery.

depressed girl sitting with face between her knees

The time spent rehabilitating allows you to reduce symptoms of stress and to start living healthier. Managing stress can help you recover more quickly and worry less about how your body responds to physical therapy, rehab, and recovery. 

Intimidated by Other Women

Believe it or not, many women feel intimidated by other women. These feelings may stem from a bad experience in high school, nasty comments, or feuds they’ve had in the past. You may know, or you might be, somebody that says, “I just get along better with guys.” Women’s rehabs are a place to knock down walls and show you firsthand that your own gender is not something to be intimidated by! Instead, you will experience what we’ve witnessed time and time again… that women do better when we support each other. 

Erase the preconceived notions you may have of women tearing each other down, and feel what it’s like to find support and be lifted up by other women. 

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment Program

Addiction doesn’t change much in a person’s life until it’s too late. By then, the relationship with drugs and alcohol has become an important part of your life. If you notice a loved one struggling with addiction, it’s vital to take action before the situation gets out of control.

Whether you are having a problem with drug addiction, eating disorders, depression, or anxiety, an all-women inpatient drug rehab is suitable for you. Having support groups of other women dealing with various problems can help aid recovery and make treatment more effective.

Anchored Tides Recovery Center is specifically designed for women. Our effective addiction treatment programs are designed specifically for a woman’s unique emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. Our team of professionals will help you develop a personalized treatment plan for your long-term recovery goals. Call us today at 1-866-753-5865.Wom

Dialectical Behavior Therapy and You

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of evidence-based behavioral therapy that aims to identify and change unhealthy or destructive behaviors.

The core idea of behavioral therapy is that behaviors are learned, and therefore when they aren’t healthy, they can be changed. These types of therapy also tend to focus primarily on current problems someone is experiencing, so they can make changes.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

While dialectical behavioral therapy has many things in common with other types of behavioral therapy and especially CBT, it also has unique elements that set this approach apart. It can be described as a sub-type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.  Dialectical Behavior Therapy

The goal of dialectical behavioral therapy is to help people learn how to regulate emotions, have healthier relationships, cope with stress in practical ways, and live in the present.

Someone who has self-destructive behaviors, such as a person with a substance use disorder, can benefit from DBT, as can a person who has a hard time regulating their emotions; it’s also used with PTSD.

Objectives of dialectical behavioral therapy can include:

  • Move from being out of control to in control. You might be able to reduce harmful behaviors by becoming more in control in all areas of your life. 
  • Learn to be able to experience healthy relationships rather than avoiding them or being emotionally unavailable.   
  • Develop problem-solving skills that can be applied in daily life. 
  • Accepting negative emotions exists but being able to still feel like a fulfilled person.  

What can you expect with DBT?

If you’re participating in a DBT treatment program, there might be individual therapy sessions and group sessions focused on developing more specific skills.

For example, you might start your journey working with a DBT therapist one-on-one, this will help you begin to learn how to apply DBT skills. Then, you can put those skills into action during group sessions.

When you’re doing a DBT group session, you can support one another and share experiences. These groups are led by a therapist, even though they aren’t one-on-one.

DBT may involve homework assignments too. For example, you may be asked to practice exercises to help with mindfulness.

Group sessions usually occur once a week, or maybe a couple of times a week for around six months.

There are also variations in how DBT is delivered. For example, the sessions might be done by phone or video conferencing. DBT can also include just one-on-one therapy without the group sessions, or you could do the alternative and only participate in groups.

Why is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Effective?

As was mentioned, DBT was initially created to help treat borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by strong negative emotions that are hard to manage.

These emotions often come when someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder interacts with other people in their lives, such as their family members or romantic partners. These intense emotions lead to conflict.

woman thinking

The goal of DBT is to help create a sense of balance, particularly in your emotions. You move away from seeing things as all-or-nothing or entirely black-and-white, promoting acceptance.

Strategies Used in DBT

The following are some of the specific techniques commonly used in DBT skills training by DBT therapists.


When you participate in DBT, you learn mindfulness skills, so you’re grounded in the present. This means you’re always thinking about what’s happening both inside your mind and body at any given time, but you’re also using your senses for what’s around you.

Mindfulness can be an important component of addiction treatment and making progress in mental health disorders because it helps you slow down and work on using the coping skills you learn, rather than jumping straight into impulsive behavior or negative patterns.

Tolerance for Distress

When you develop skills for distress tolerance, you can start to handle crises in a better way. Some of the ways you might be taught to do this in DBT include distraction, self-soothing, and working to improve the moment. If you have strong emotions, you can use these distress tolerance techniques to cope better.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

As was mentioned, a lot of what’s worked on in DBT focuses on interpersonal relationships. With interpersonal effectiveness, you can start to learn how to communicate in a healthy way, respect your personal boundaries when it comes to relationships, and create more positive bonds with others.

Emotional Regulation

When you have strong negative emotions, it’s difficult to navigate the situation. Through DBT, you can learn how to identify those emotions and cope with them for more positive outcomes. You might engage in the opposite action as part of this. For example, if you’re feeling depressed and you’d like friends and family, you might learn to do the opposite and instead reach out for social connection during these times. You can bring opposite feelings or forces together with the ultimate goal of creating balance.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in Addiction Recovery

DBT can be helpful for the treatment of substance use disorders because it’s a means to help equip people with the tools they need to have healthier emotions and mindsets.

One premise behind DBT is that someone who engages in self-destructive behaviors, which can include substance use, doesn’t have the necessary skills to create a fulfilling life, but they can learn those skills.

Participating in DBT does require a time commitment because you do therapy sessions and homework. However, learning these skills can be an excellent option if you’re in addiction recovery, and they can help you thrive in your daily life.

Many people in addiction recovery find that they struggle to cope with negative emotions and stress, which can increase the likelihood of relapse. DBT can help you implement strategies to reduce the risk of relapse.

In addiction recovery, a lot of people also have to work to rebuild damaged relationships, and DBT helps you learn strategies to do that also. 

Types of Behavioral Therapy

There are a few types of behavioral therapy; their effectiveness is evidence-based and well-supported by research. These types of therapy include:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy: DBT helps participants learn new skills to deal with painful emotions. DBT can also be used as a way to reduce relationship conflict. It was originally developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder. Research has shown it’s effective in treating many other conditions, including substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and depression. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: CBT is similar in many ways to DBT. This treatment focuses on quality of life and how your thoughts influence your behavior and mood.  It’s a problem-solving approach. 

man thinking

  • Aversion therapy: Sometimes aversion therapy is used in the treatment of substance abuse. It helps people learn to associate a stimulus with something very unpleasant that causes discomfort. For example, you might learn to associate drinking alcohol with an unpleasant feeling or memory. 
  • Desensitization: This type of behavioral therapy can help treat phobias. The first step in this process is usually learning relaxation techniques, as well as therapeutic breathing strategies. Then, the therapist can slowly introduce something the client is afraid of in increasing doses while they use the learned relaxation techniques.

Who Benefits from Behavioral Therapy?

Behavioral therapy is considered to be very effective and beneficial for many conditions. These include:

  • Substance misuse
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bulimia
  • Anger control
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Self-harm

Anchored Tides Recovery is proud of the strides and progress we have made with the use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for our treatment of borderline personality disorder and substance use disorder. The skills you will learn in DBT training will help you all of your life and in many different areas of your life. If you’re interested in learning more about DBT, call one of our care coordinators today. 

Coexisting Eating Disorders And Addiction

eating disorders and addiction

eating disorders and addiction


Eating disorders are more common in individuals who suffer from addiction: 35% of individuals with a substance use disorder report disordered eating, compared with just 5% of the female population. Some experts have questioned whether this connection reveals more significant similarities between eating disorders and addiction than were previously thought. 

Researchers have proposed an “addiction model” describing eating disorder behavior, where the ED is simply another form of addiction. Others have called binge-eating disorder (BED) and obesity the consequences of an addiction to food. So, just how accurate are these models in representing disordered eating and addictive behavior? Read on to find out what science has to say about it.


Eating Disorders and Addiction: Are They The Same?

There are many similarities between eating disorders and addictions that have led some experts — rightfully or wrongfully — to propose an “addiction model” of eating disorders. For example, eating disorders and addictions are both diseases with physiological and psychological components. They are also both characterized by compulsive behavior.

Researchers have proposed that individuals with “addictive personalities” may be more prone to developing substance use disorders and eating disorders. An addictive personality type is characterized by obsessive behavior, anxiety, impulsivity, and risk-taking. Individuals who develop certain eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, may share some of these traits — especially ones of an obsessive-compulsive nature.

man eating salad

Some have even said that disordered eating behaviors, such as self-starvation, may represent an addiction to the body’s endogenous opioids. Eating disorders can also sometimes resemble an addiction to diet pills or laxatives. 

Still, the consensus is that eating disorders are separate diagnoses. Although addiction often co-occurs alongside eating disorders, eating disorders are not the same thing as addictions. They are different enough that they even belong to different categories of the DSM-V handbook used by psychologists to diagnose mental health conditions.


How Are Food Addiction And Eating Disorders Alike?

“Food addiction” is another explanation that has been proposed for binge-eating disorder (BED), as well as obesity—eating triggers the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, which tell us to keep eating so that we can survive. The idea behind “food addiction” is that we can experience a high off these chemicals, leading us to keep eating far beyond our fullness cues

People with BED share some traits in common with individuals who have an addiction. They may eat compulsively, feeling out of control and unable to stop. But binge-eating is also characterized by feelings of guilt or shame associated with the binges and disruptions in body image. It frequently starts with a failed attempt at dieting. 

Sometimes, individuals may try to compensate for the binges by making themselves throw up or abusing laxatives, comprising a disorder known as bulimia nervosa. 

These disordered thoughts and behaviors are not explained by the “addiction model” of eating disorders. If binge eating were the result of “food addiction,” it would not be grouped with other eating disorders but with substance use disorders instead. But because binge-eating is so closely linked to dieting and disruptions in body image, like other eating disorders, we consider it a separate disease from addiction and group it with disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

“Food addiction” has also been proposed as a potential explanation for obesity. However, what’s important to understand about obesity is that it is not considered an eating disorder. While many obese individuals suffer from binge-eating disorder, obesity is a physical health issue, not a mental health one. Whether or not “food addiction” is to blame for obesity, this is a different problem from the confusion of “food addiction” with binge-eating.


Why Substance Abuse Coexists With Eating Disorders

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), up to half of the people with eating disorders abuse substances; this rate is five times higher than that of the general population. Other than the “addictive personality” explanation, why do eating disorders so frequently coexist with substance abuse? 

The most likely reason is a nonspecific genetic predisposition to developing mental illness. Scientists believe that we inherit genes that make us more likely to develop mental health issues in general, but not to develop one mental health problem over another. 

It may be likely that the gene that makes us more likely to develop eating disorders is the same as the one that makes us more likely to develop an addiction. Accordingly, many people with both eating disorders and substance use disorders also have another first-degree relative who suffers from the disorder. 

measuring tape on a fork

Another reason is that the risk factors of eating disorders closely resemble the risk factors of substance use disorders. The two disorders may have similar motivations behind them: an individual can self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, just as they can self-medicate with starvation or purging. 

This self-medication may develop as the result of anxiety, depression, or trauma. High pressure and familial expectations can also contribute to the development of eating disorders and substance use disorders.

Even so, substance use disorders do not directly cause eating disorders, nor do eating disorders directly cause substance use disorders. It is difficult to say whether the substance use disorder came first or the eating disorder in many cases. One does not necessarily precede the other. The course of these diseases is different for everyone; sometimes, the two conditions may even develop simultaneously. 

For example, “drunkorexia” is a colloquial term for a disordered eating behavior where people who binge drink withhold food to make up for calories consumed through planned drinking. If an individual exhibits “drunkorexic” behavior, it may be challenging to say which came first, the alcohol abuse or the caloric restriction.

Other times, people with eating disorders may adopt addictive behaviors to distract themselves from the consequences of the eating disorder. A common example is the use of cigarettes and nicotine in place of eating meals. Some individuals may pick up smoking (or the use of other drugs) as a way to facilitate self-starvation behaviors during the course of their eating disorders. 


Eating Disorders And Drug Addiction Treatment

While eating disorders closely resemble addictions in many ways, the treatments for these disorders are vastly different. Most eating disorder treatment centers are equipped to handle certain types of addictive behavior, such as the abuse of diet pills or laxatives, but not to facilitate the withdrawal from addictive substances like alcohol or drugs. 

If you suffer from both an eating disorder and an addiction, it’s crucial to locate a rehabilitation facility that can treat both conditions safely and effectively. Again, not all eating disorder treatment centers will be prepared to support you through the process of withdrawal. You may need to attend separate treatment programs for your eating disorder and your addiction or find a remarkable rehab facility equipped to handle both. Sometimes the most effective treatment or aftercare is having a support group of people who can understand what you’re going through. Anchored Tides Recovery is a place for women to heal. An all-female staff and all-female client base provide a comfortable environment for growth. 

We work with all types of eating disorders and substance abuse. Our team will help you achieve your long-term goals, whether that is related to drug abuse, or you just want to change your relationship with food, we are here for you.