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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Women

alcohol use disorder
In January, during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, we reported that some 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. We also pointed out on our blog that more than 16 million people in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder or AUD.

Those struggling with alcohol use can benefit significantly from seeking help; however, most people never access care. The reasons why people avoid reaching out for help are many; some people don’t think they have a problem, others do not know they do—still, more people fail to access care because of the stigma of addiction. There are other reasons why people are unable to get the help they need, but those mentioned above are some of the most common, the latter cause in particular.

The evidence is clear and overwhelming—addiction is a life-threatening mental illness. Fortunately, treatment exists, and recovery is possible. And still, many remain unwilling or unable to reach out for help, even individuals who have health insurance. The above fact is especially true among women who have insurance coverage, according to a new report from the Research Society on Alcoholism.

“The study confirms what anyone who is in the practice of managing patients with liver disease already knows — that while alcohol cessation treatment programs can improve outcomes, very few patients avail themselves to it,” said Dr. Robert Brown, a hepatologist and director of the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.


More Women Have AUDs, But Few Seek Treatment

Alcohol use disorder can affect men and women alike. While more males contend with the disease than females, the number of women who do too is climbing. High-risk drinking rose almost 60 percent for women from 2001-2002 to 2012-2013, according to research appearing in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Moreover, the rates of women diagnosed with drinking-related cirrhosis increased by 50 percent from 2009 to 2016.

Cirrhosis of the liver is a life-threatening condition; but, addiction treatment and a program of recovery can prevent the disease from worsening. Of 66,053 privately insured female patients, ages 18 to 64, diagnosed with alcohol-associated cirrhosis from 2009 to 2016, only 10 percent of the group received in-person mental health or substance abuse treatment, Healthline reports. Interestingly, people who go to rehab or take medication to prevent relapse are 15 percent less likely to see their cirrhosis worsen, as opposed to those who never receive substance abuse treatment.

Deni Carise, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with expertise in addiction and an Adjunct Clinical Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Psychiatry, says the reason for the gender disparity is attributable to societal and social challenges, according to the article. Carise is in recovery, with more than 30 years clean and sober.

“Women face additional barriers to treatment for substance abuse. They have family pressure not to admit they have a disorder or seek treatment, they generally have less financial freedom, and they tend to have more childcare responsibilities than men, making it harder to get treatment,” said Dr. Carise. She adds that “Effective treatment works, and people can go on to have great lives. The recovery can be so transformative for someone, so we need to keep pushing people to get the care they need.”


Stigma Doesn’t Have to Stand In The Way of Addiction Treatment

Seeking help can change one’s life dramatically. While it can be challenging to admit you have a problem and seek assistance, courage can be found—even in the most despairing of times. At The Haven, we understand how punishing the stigma of addiction can be; and, we know the guilt and shame that can accompany any form of mental illness. However, reaching out for support, considering our gender-specific treatment, and working a program of recovery is not a sign of weakness—it is a marker of strength.

Please contact us to learn how we can help you embark on an unforgettable journey of healing.  

February 25 - March 3, 2019, is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness). For more information about how we can change the conversation around food, body image, and eating disorders, please click here! Join the movement, and #ComeAsYouAre, not as you think you should be.