Tag Archives: Women in Recovery

Tag Archives: Women in Recovery


Cumberland Heights - Recovery Live Podcast - I'm 100% grateful I'm an addict

Alexis H Podcast – I’m 100% grateful I’m an addict.

When Alexis went to treatment the first time she decided she was going to prove everyone wrong and not take any suggestions. When that didn’t work the first or second time, she decided to finally take all the suggestions her third time in treatment. Now sober for 4.5 years, Alexis shares how recovery got her through her parents’ divorce, allowed her to experience true joy for the first time and made it possible for her to help other women who are struggling.

Cumberland Heights - Recovery Live Podcast - Addiction is about isolation. Recovery is about connection.

Jaime G Podcast – Addiction is about isolation. Recovery is about connection.

Liz sits down with Jaime Gibbons – Cumberland Heights’ Alumni Relations & Volunteer Coordinator – to talk about what 16 years of sobriety looks like and how engaging with friends in recovery kept Jaime clean. Also in this episode: relationships that make you sick, a spiritual awakening while free-falling 30 feet, and Jaime’s greatest triumph in recovery. Hint: It’s a person and he only stands about 2.5 feet tall.

Women in recovery: body image, parenting and healthy relationshipsWomen face unique challenges when it comes to addiction recovery, but rarely are they addressed in formalized treatment centers. All too often, individuals seek help – and they only receive information, tools, support and resources that address the addiction itself and nothing else. Addiction is not what makes a person, however. We’re all complex beings with histories, thoughts, personalities, learning capabilities and mental health statuses. What better way to enhance our addiction recovery than to address many of the most important aspects of our lives? The mind, body and spirit represent a holistic view of recovery, and by taking this approach, we can address not only addiction, but also some of the most pressing needs facing women today: body image issues, parenting concerns and healthy relationship guidance.

Women & Body Image in Addiction Recovery

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services defines body image as,

“[The way you] feel comfortable in your body and you feel good about the way you look.”

Women face a lot of pressures in the world today to keep up appearances. Magazines and societal expectations hold incredibly high standards, which are enough to make anyone feel incompetent. Previous studies have highlighted the fact that women who have a low self-image are more likely to use drugs; a 2017 study conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia found that teenagers who struggle with depression and low self-esteem, as well as negative body image, are likely to increase their tobacco and alcohol use.

A negative body image can cause women to be at higher risk for depression as well as eating disorders – and sometimes drugs feel like the only way “out”.

Women, Parenting and Addiction Recovery

Mothers who are reclaiming their life after active addiction may feel apprehensive about their role as a parent. Previous studies have emphasized just how important the parent-child connection is, and how it can become greatly disrupted if active addiction takes over. Children must learn to trust their parent again, and mothers may have a particularly difficult time with this if there are many emotional wounds still leftover. The Mighty, a website that highlights personal stories on topics such as addiction, disability, chronic illness and more, published the story of a woman’s journey through recovery. These were some of the tips she provided to re-establishing that parent-child bond:

  • Be honest about the past.
  • Allow your child to express their feelings, no matter how painful it may be to hear them.
  • Let time heal these wounds.
  • Be actively present in your child’s life.
  • Cherish the moments that you spend with your child.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights many services that women in recovery can benefit from, such as parenting skills, vocational assistance, family therapy, individual therapy and more. Mothers in recovery may need to “relearn” how to build a relationship with their children, how to recover from feelings of shame, how to let go of unrealistic expectations and other crucial components of parenting.

Addiction Recovery: Women & Healthy Relationships

Relationship-building is a huge aspect of recovery because that social support is what can drive many women to continue pushing past all obstacles they encounter in recovery. When active addiction has taken such a significant toll on a person, however, it can make forming relationships a bit challenging. Some women have only been accustomed to forming relationships with people whom they’ve abused substances with – and for them, recovery is an entirely new world where they must build a recovery support network.

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy concluded that it’s often the way a person views their “social identity” that influences the way they create and maintain relationships. This can be a huge undertaking for women in recovery, especially when these types of relationships need to be avoided:

  • Toxic relationships – maintaining relationships with people whom you used to use drugs with or obtain drugs from
  • Codependent relationships – forming relationships in which a person believes that love, acceptance, security and approval are contingent upon taking care of a person in whatever way they wish
  • Enabling relationships – being with someone who allows you to make excuses or who will cover up for you if you decide to abuse substances again

Our past can weigh heavily on the way we relate to others, and some women may have a strong pull towards relationships that don’t serve them in healthy ways. Throughout recovery, these types of concerns should be addressed.

Personalized Care

There are many concerns that are unique to women, which makes them important topics to address in recovery. The more personalized care that can be provided, the greater the chances of success will be for women striving to overcome addiction. If you have a loved one who is currently struggling with addiction, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights. Help is right around the corner.

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.

Women facing relapse risks in recoveryWomen and men experience addiction differently, and these effects extend out to recovery as well. Recovery involves a lot of ups and downs, but there are many factors that can help those in recovery remain persistent. Relapse is a common concern, as it is often seen as taking a major step back in recovery. If we surround ourselves with people, places and circumstances that make it easier to use, then we often will. One person shared his story of relapse via the Chicago Tribune. He stated,

“If I stop using and continue to hang out with the same people and continue to hang out in the same situations and not manage my other symptoms like mental health and physical health, there’s a very good chance I’m going to return to use.”

What makes women more susceptible to relapsing?

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that women’s social networks are great influencers of relapse; women in recovery are less likely to relapse if they surround themselves with people who are conducive to their recovery. In fact, a 2015 study published in the journal Qualitative Health Research stated that for many women, it’s a necessity to distance or isolate themselves from social groups have had a negative impact on their recovery. What other ways can women combat the social influence on relapse?

12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide a safe space for women to meet others working towards their recovery; similarly, sponsorship can provide women with someone who has already been working diligently in their recovery and can encourage them in pursuing their recovery goals. In addition to social support, women face additional risks to relapse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that family problems, mental health issues, medical issues, education and employment concerns and more can all have an impact on how a person views themselves and their recovery. Ultimately, it’s the right support, treatment and structure that is needed.

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.

Woman seeking trauma informed care during addiction recoveryAfter experiencing a dangerous or upsetting event, it’s natural to feel anxious, sad or in shock. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by nightmares, paranoia, anger, irritability, depression and so many other symptoms that can appear after traumatic events, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men to develop it in their lifetimes. The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that women who struggle with PTSD often experience troubles in their intimate relationships, sleeping disturbances, suicidal behaviors, loss of trust and more. Unfortunately, many survivors of trauma wait years to seek help – and that’s why trauma informed care is critical for women in addiction recovery.

When someone walks through the front doors for treatment, they come with a wide array of knowledge, experiences, thoughts, emotions and more. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies reports that one-quarter to three-quarters of people who have survived abusive or violent traumatic events go on to report problematic alcohol use, and women exposed to traumatic events report a higher rate of increased risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Since PTSD may still be lingering when a person seeks treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD), it’s crucial for trained professionals to have a thorough understanding of trauma and what a client needs during these times. It can make a huge difference, such as:

  • The difference between what one client needs over another
  • Understanding when grief needs to take place
  • Helping a client identify some of the underlying beliefs that developed from their traumatic experiences
  • Coping mechanisms and ways of healing from traumatic events

For some women, substances have been the only way to seemingly “drown out” the pain experienced from PTSD. Symptoms of this disorder, along with stress and anxiety from other life situations, can make it hard to cope – especially when there are little resources to work with. Trauma informed care ensures that those in recovery are considered for all they’ve been through – through this, a person can receive the most personalized care possible.

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.

remaining vigilant during recoveryIn 2017, psychotherapist Anita Gadhia-Smith told U.S. News,

“Remember that time [in sobriety] doesn’t exempt you from relapse. Anyone can relapse at any point in time.”

Women face unique challenges in addiction recovery and relapse prevention is an area of recovery that begs for vigilance, which is defined as, “the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.” There are many strategies that can be used to aid relapse prevention, but women in particular may view their recovery – and their self-identity through it – differently than men do. In 2017, researchers published a study in the journal Qualitative Social Work to explore women’s lived experiences in recovery and to find what helps them maintain vigilance. This is what they found:

  • Remembering. Many participants in the study reported remembering certain aspects of their substance abuse – and very vividly – so they could easily recall just how much destruction is caused and how “out of control” they felt. This served as a clear reminder to many women what happens when they engage in addiction.
  • Being careful. It was very important to women in the study to watch out for thoughts, feelings and behaviors that were signs of being triggered. They described a delicate balance between attention and monitoring as a way of anticipating or working through troubling events.
  • Seeking community. Community provided many women with a sense of safety, comfort and access to others whom they could build connections with. 12-Step programs were highlighted as places to stay “plugged in” to recovery.

Each person will experience different types of triggers, but the key is to find what works best for you. For many, the strategies listed above work wonderfully and others may have additional tools. Don’t wait any longer to start working diligently towards 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.

Supporting women during recoveryAddiction is a complex disease and with so many contributing factors, researchers have been exploring for many, many years the multifaceted components that make up someone’s recovery process. Spirituality, abstinence, therapy and more are all significant areas to build in recovery, but one that is enacted – and not as often discussed – is social support. Women in particular may experience different vulnerabilities than men do when it comes to triggers and cravings and social support may be that guiding factor. If you’re a woman in addiction recovery, it’s time to really start thinking about your social network to ponder who is aiding your recovery – and who is hindering it.

As we navigate this road filled with ups and downs, trying to figure out which path to take, it’s difficult to let go of those who may not be helping us in recovery. In a purest sense, letting go is a form of self-care. In order for you to lead a life that you’re incredibly proud of, you’re going to have to change some of the people in your life to reflect what you want.

One woman shared her story with having to let go as part of her addiction recovery via Cosmopolitan. Here is an excerpt from her story:

“…My sobriety changed the dynamics of those relationships and many of them were beyond repair. With some people, it turned out that once we didn’t have booze or drugs between us, we had literally nothing to talk about.”

For many women in recovery, priorities change – and so do friends. A 2014 study published in the journal Qualitative Health Research found that many women, while adding friends to their recovery network, also isolate or distance themselves from others in an attempt to diminish the negative impact that those people have had on their recovery. Ultimately, it’s these connections that grow to be the foundation of your recovery, so you always want to choose those around you wisely.

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.


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