My friend, Amanda, is currently in jail for three DUIs, all received in the last few months. In one incident, the police described her trying to run down a cop with her car. She has no recall of this. Thank God no one was hurt. She is only 24 years old, a 6-foot blonde, gorgeous and smart young woman with a college degree.
Sadly, alcoholism and/or drug addiction doesn’t care about your intellectual abilities, your IQ, your socioeconomic status, or even if you are physically beautiful.
At the last court hearing, Amanda had a choice: She could stay in jail or go to court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment. She chose to stay in jail. Everybody in her family was shocked. Amanda’s choice shows the depth and power of addiction. Here are some interesting points about women and addiction:
From the University of Wisconsin:
- Women are half as likely to have substance abuse problems but when they do, they get addicted much more quickly than men.
- Research currently links the “faster addiction” to physiological differences in women. For example, the lining of a woman’s stomach absorbs alcohol faster.
- Women have concurrent histories of physical or sexual trauma, which complicates treatment. Someone who has been traumatized may use drugs/alcohol to help dull the pain. Even though that’s a destructive choice, it may seem better than feeling the pain.
- Women are more likely to have children to care for, which complicates the logistics of treatment. Childcare, work, transportation, dealing with emergencies: These can be barriers to treatment.
- On a more positive note, gender specific treatment has better outcomes for women. Going to a woman-focused treatment group could be more effective at helping women get well.
This makes good sense to me. I have a wonderful friend who has been clean and sober for several years. However, she got tired of dealing with all the guys hitting on her at AA meetings. She said it was disruptive, discouraging and damaging to her success. She stopped going and is trying to rely on AA resources and other spiritual work to ensure her sobriety.
Alcoholism and/or addiction is a family disease. It affects and infects all who are connected with someone who has this illness. The good news is that I have known many people who have gotten treatment, become sober, and have embraced a new and better way of living. Help is out there.
Have you dealt with addiction in your life? You or someone you love: What got you through? Or, can you relate to Amanda’s story in some way? If so, please share.
Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago. She also blogs about home, work, life and love at www.stopgivingitaway.com.
*Pic from wikipedia.