There are differences between men and women both in structure and thought process. Addiction recovery is a vulnerable time for either, and relapse is a particularly feared aspect of recovery because it’s often associated with weakness or failure. Despite this falsity, relapse is actually considered a normal part of the process. In fact, it should be perceived as a learning experience, with which a person can gain more insight about what they need to strengthen or change in their treatment, or even what they need to reinforce. Social support is a vital component of recovery success, because it’s what builds up our emotional stamina to push through those hard days – research has shown us that women tend to lean towards social and emotional connections more so than men, which means they can also be highly affected if they connect with people that are not supportive of their recovery.
Residential and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are a bit different in terms of what they offer and the overall environment. With residential treatment, women find that their eating and living quarters are in close proxemics to others. IOPs on the other hand can also allow for connections to be made, but individuals can return home each day after their daily program is over. In 2016, researchers sought to explore women’s connections in substance abuse treatment and how it relates to relapse. They also explored what, if any, differences occur between connections in residential programs and IOPs.
After assessing 377 women for their personal network connections within the past 6 months, they found this compelling insight:
- Women in residential treatment had more substance users in their network and fewer people in their network who provided social support
It was concluded that these women were more susceptible to relapse because of their lack of personal recovery support connections. People who qualify for IOPs tend to have a stable and supportive home environment and have likely been working towards their recovery for some time – it makes sense that women in residential treatment programs may not have as much support, especially if they’re relatively new to their treatment program. What does this mean for women who are in residential treatment programs? What can they do to reduce their risk of relapse?
Social support is incredibly important, and other studies have shown that reducing contact with people who abuse substances is most beneficial for people trying to recover. Distance yourself. Connect with people who support and uplift your recovery goals. Talk to recovery leaders, and become actively engaged in your recovery program. You never know who may have a huge impact on your journey.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.
Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.