Women, Substance Abuse, and Self-Esteem
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The rule of three comes from the Latin phrase “Omne trium perfectum,” which means that everything that comes in threes is perfect or complete. That may not always be true, but when it comes to women and substance abuse, you can usually count on the fact that there will also be a lack of self-esteem. Perhaps the perfect or complete part of this trio is that healing occurs when all three are addressed simultaneously.

Basic Gender Differences That Impact Substance Abuse

As with many areas in life, there are specific gender differences within substance abuse. For example, while men often begin using substances earlier in life, women often become addicted more quickly. While men are more likely to use substances in general and are more likely to binge drink, women often drink more consistently. While men commonly use substances for recreational purposes and are more prone to risk-taking, women are more likely to begin using substances due to a romantic relationship or familial influence. Women also have the burden of harm to a child when they use substances during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Women are also more likely to face stigma and barriers to treatment than men. Additionally, most treatment programs were developed for men. As a result, women are more likely to be given the same treatment as men despite significant biological and hormonal differences as well as very different emotional needs. When it comes to women and substance abuse, many differences need to be considered when seeking treatment.

Why Women Use Substances

More women begin using substances due to the influence of a romantic partner or family member because of poor self-esteem or relationship issues. Some women self-medicate for depression, which often includes poor self-esteem. They are more likely to drink or use drugs to escape than for pleasure.

One of the most significant factors in women using substances is trauma. One in four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) has been increasing, especially since the pandemic began, impacting up to 57% of women in some populations. The reasons that women use substances often differ from why men use substances, and with trauma so much more pervasive for women, treating them the same is a strange idea.

Why Self-Esteem Is a Factor in Substance Abuse

Some women have poor self-esteem, which alone can lead them to use substances. Others have poor self-esteem because of trauma or co-occurring mental health diagnoses. Whether the poor self-esteem happened before or after, the connection between the three is intrinsically linked.

As self-esteem drops, women may even be seen or treated differently. There is a stigma surrounding all substance abuse, but society sees it acceptable for a man to “cut loose” and party. Whereas not only is that not okay for a woman, but using substances subjects her to further risks of date rape or sexual assault, which further impacts self-esteem.

The Substance Abuse Rule of Three

The rule of three is not perfect for women because being a woman with addiction and low self-esteem makes treatment three times the work. They are interconnected almost by default, and you cannot heal the woman without healing both the substance abuse and her self-esteem.

However, this does not render the rule of three completely insignificant. Rather, it highlights that when choosing a treatment center, a woman should choose one that recognizes the importance of finding self-esteem in healing.

The Omne Trium Perfectum Method of Healing

The concept of Omne trium perfectum becomes especially applicable for women with substance abuse in the healing itself. There are a growing number of treatment programs designed specifically for women. Not only do they treat substance abuse, but many also focus on rebuilding self-esteem. This is where the rule of three becomes perfected.

Some of the benefits of healing together as women include:

  • Trauma-informed care
  • Feeling safe in healing
  • Allowing women to be vulnerable together
  • Women nurturing and supporting one another
  • How women empower each other
  • Sharing similar backgrounds and experiences
  • A safe place to begin healing from a relationship or sex addiction
  • A program designed specifically for women’s needs

Because relapse is so common for women with addiction, finding the perfect place to heal is even more critical. Finding the right environment that focuses on repairing self-esteem and feels safe and comfortable for women is more complex than just enrolling in the first program you search for on Google. Looking for that Omne trium perfectum can make all of the difference in your healing and recovery process.

For women with substance abuse, self-esteem is almost always a part of the equation. This is certainly true of the addiction equivalent of the rule of three. Because women are biologically different from men, their recovery needs are, too. Given the high prevalence of trauma these women have suffered, finding a trauma-informed women’s recovery center can help make their treatment more successful. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is the perfect place for women suffering from addiction to heal because we offer trauma-informed care and focus on rebuilding self-esteem. Our program is designed specifically for women with substance abuse and potential co-occurring disorders. Our primary focus is on education, for we know that education brings self-awareness, which is vital in rebuilding your self-esteem. Call our Costa Mesa, California facility now at (714) 581-3974 to learn more about our program for women. Find your perfect healing at The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women.