Historically, men have a higher rate of addiction than women, and unfortunately, women seem to have more significant barriers to substance abuse treatment.
Females are more likely than males to experience economic barriers when seeking treatment for a substance abused disorder.
These barriers could be attributed to the gender pay gap or also the fact that there are fewer women in the workforce than men, and more women tend to stay home to take care of the family compared to men.
Women are also more likely to have trouble finding the time to attend regular treatment sessions because of family responsibilities as women are more likely to be the primary caretakers of their household.
Both men and women must overcome the stigma associated with seeking treatment, but women are particularly susceptible to feeling stigmatized, especially when they have children.
Mothers are often shamed for having a substance abuse disorder and because of their addiction, often labeled as “unfit mothers.”
Since women are considered a minority in society but yet are still responsible for making a living wage and birthing and raising children, it can be said that addiction and recovery can be a more difficult road for women compared to men.
Not only do women experience more barriers to addiction treatment, but also they may have more to lose, such as their children if they are not able to successfully overcome their substance abuse disorder.
Family and relationships are essential motivators for women to enter into recovery and overcome their addiction.
Below are the profiles and stories of five inspiring women who successfully overcame their substance abuse disorder.
1) Elizabeth Vargas
Emmy-award winning journalist Elizabeth Vargas battled an anxiety-induced alcohol use disorder, and while vacationing with her family 2012, she hit her rock bottom.
She entered recovery for her anxiety disorder and co-occurring alcohol use disorder and relapsed multiple times over two years.
She has been successful in her recovery since 2014 and has written a compelling memoir, “Between Breaths,” which tells the hard truth about her battle with anxiety and alcohol.
Elizabeth’s message to anyone struggling with anxiety or addiction is “You are not alone.”
2) Jada Pinkett-Smith
Famous Hollywood actress and wife to Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith struggled with alcohol use disorder.
She contributed her abuse of alcohol to her traumatic childhood. 2017 marked her 20th anniversary in recovery, and Jada now works diligently to raise awareness about addiction, abuse, trauma, and the importance of connecting all of these factors into recovery.
“I’ve learned that recovery isn’t just for those suffering from substance abuse, but that recovery is about recovering from our traumas, abuse, neglect, abandonment, lack of self-worth, disappointments, failed relationships, the loss of loved ones and so on…”
– Jada Pinkett Smith
3) Oprah Winfrey
Popular actress, author, talk show host, and motivational speak, Oprah Winfrey battled with addiction while in an unhealthy relationship with a man in the 1970’s.
She said that her addiction, which included cocaine, was fueled by her abusive relationship.
She spoke publicly about her addiction as a way to help pregnant mothers who are currently struggling with substance abuse disorders. Oprah is now using her platform to help women around the world.
4) Betty Ford
First Lady to American President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, had a long history with alcohol and opioid abuse.
In 1978, the Ford family staged an intervention and confronted her about her addictions.
She later underwent professional treatment, and the entire recovery experience had a profound effect on Betty, to the point that she founded the Betty Ford Center after realizing there was no current addiction treatment center designed specifically for women.
Betty Ford later began to understand the connection to intravenous drug addiction and HIV/AIDS. She worked diligently to break down the stigma and educate the public on the growing epidemic.
5) Carrie Fischer
The late, great Princess Leia from the one of the most famous American film franchise, Stars Wars, struggled with bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorder.
Her drug of choice was Percodan, an opioid medication that became available in the 1970s. At her lowest point, she was popping 30 Percodan a day.
She eventually sought professional treatment for her mental health disorder and co-occurring substance abuse disorder.
Later on, she wrote about her battle with addiction and her journey and rehab in her bestselling book, “Postcards from the Edge,” which also was made into a Hollywood movie.
Unfortunately, Carrie Fischer passed away in 2017 from a cardiac arrest on a transatlantic flight.
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