Recovery is possible. But for women, recovery means so much more than just getting sober.
“Women are moms, caregivers, the organizers of their households. We juggle dozens of roles and seemingly hundreds of responsibilities and the stresses that come with that,” said Cathy A’Vant-Fowler, associate director for The Providence Center’s adult intensive outpatient programs, which include Women’s Day and Project Link—two programs in a collection of services dedicated to women’s recovery needs. “A woman’s substance use is influenced by so many factors, most often mental health issues and trauma.”
Women’s Day and Project Link are outpatient services provided by The Providence Center that focus on the unique needs of women who are working to overcome the challenges of substance use and regain control of their lives. At Roads to Recovery: Women, The Providence Center’s residential addiction treatment program, women whose lives have been damaged by their addiction undergo an intensive rehabilitation process to master the skills necessary to live an independent, drug-free lifestyle. The curriculum covers relapse prevention, coping techniques, self-esteem, wellness and more.
While national rates of substance use by women are lower than those of men, women are more likely to have psychological issues that contribute to their addictions, complicating treatment and making it a highly personal journey (SAMHSA, 2014). A history of trauma, including emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or interpersonal violence, is common in women with substance use issues. Substance use might be used to numb the effects of trauma or depression or to dissociate from it.
“Trauma and addiction go hand in hand,” said A’Vant-Fowler. “A part of treatment is helping women to develop safe coping skills to deal with the trauma and develop healthy relationships.”
Many women in recovery are also mothers who are dealing with the stresses of parenting while working on their recovery. Helping moms be the best they can be is the focus of Project Link, a program that recently transitioned The Providence Center from Women & Infants Hospital. Project Link aims to support the health and well-being of new and expecting moms, focusing on the impact of substance use and mental health issues on pregnancy and the postpartum period. Child care services are available to make it easier for women to attend therapy sessions.
“Moms in recovery can feel overwhelmed, and they may lack resources and supports,” said Joyce Lanni-Fishpaw, clinical therapist at Project Link. “Project Link’s services help mom and baby live healthy.” After treatment, living sober and healthy requires continued support. The variety of treatment levels at The Providence Center give a woman the best chance for continued recovery.
“Our goal is to show clients that this is about a total lifestyle change, not just about putting down their drug of choice,” said Kimberly Ploettner, manager of Roads to Recovery: Women. “Having the option to transition from residential to our Women’s Day and outpatient programs where the women can continue to practice living a productive life of recovery is critical to ensuring successful long-term recovery.”
These gender-specific treatment programs open doors to recovery that many women may have been apprehensive to walk through. In a safe, supportive, all-female environment, women get to share without fear or judgment and focus solely on their next steps for living healthy and drug-free.
“Everyone here has been through a similar experience,” said one woman. “They show me that recovery is a reality. I don’t feel alone.”