January 9, 2002
National Study: Women Didn't Know
They Were Addicted
- For women, the greatest barrier to addiction treatment is not recognizing
their addiction, according to a national survey of more than 400 women in
recovery from addiction, and female counselors and therapists who attended
the "Women Healing: Restoring Connection" conferences in Chicago, Seattle,
and White Plains, N.Y., presented by the Betty Ford Center, Caron
Foundation, and Hazelden Foundation, national leaders in addiction
"Women say the inability to admit the problem is severe enough to warrant
treatment is the greatest barrier to treatment. Denial and unfamiliarity
with the symptoms of addiction are probably to blame," said Susan M. Gordon,
PhD, director of research for the Caron Foundation. "We need to do a better
job of educating women about signs of addiction, effectiveness of treatment,
and rewards of recovery."
Women attending the conferences were asked to identify the top three
barriers to addiction treatment. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the
inability to admit the problem is severe enough to warrant treatment was a
barrier to treatment. The second most frequently reported barrier (32%) was
lack of emotional support for treatment from family members. Inability to
provide adequate care for children while in treatment was third (28%).
Gordon noted that therapists (25%), and therapists in recovery (40%),
identified childcare as a barrier much more frequently than recovering women
(16%). Of the women in recovery and recovering therapists, 25% said
mistaking addiction for mental health problems was a barrier to treatment.
Nationwide, 40-50% of addicted adults are women, but women make up only 30%
of treatment slots. "This study helps us understand what keeps women out of
treatment," said Gordon.
Not enough is known about how women experience addiction, treatment, and
recovery since much of the research has been done on men. This survey was
conducted to learn and share more about women and addiction.