Alcohol & Drug Treatment for Women

Effective alcohol and drug treatment for women must include the experience and challenges of living as a woman in today’s society.

This understanding and sensitivity help shape our clinical perspective here at Nexus Recovery Services. Women tend to:

  • Progress faster in their alcohol and substance abuse than men
  • Experience an increase in co-occurring mental health disorders, specifically anxiety and depression
  • Face barriers to entering treatment due to childcare, trauma-related symptoms, and partner violence

We have handcrafted our women’s treatment program with these and other gender-specific issues in mind. Our dedicated staff and expert clinicians are acutely aware that each client who walks through our door has had their own unique life experiences. We work with each of our clients to design a treatment program that meets their unique needs.

About Our Gender-Specific & Gender Responsive Program for Women

At Nexus Recovery Services, we honor the experience of living as a woman in a male-focused society. For us, any other clinical perspective ignores the sensitive needs and demands of women.

We identify ourselves as a “Gender-Responsive” program and thus provide a mix of mixed gender and gender-specific groups.

We believe that in the outpatient level of care, men and women must learn or re-learn how to set and hold boundaries, as well as interact and engage with the opposite sex in a healthy way. Therefore, through our carefully curated clinical program, we provide some mixed programming when appropriate, and when topics are less likely to promote triggers. Our mixed gender programming helps to lay a foundation of practical tools to help our clients navigate life and relationships successfully both during and after treatment.

For the women that participate in treatment at Nexus, we also provide gender-specific programming. These groups are focused on shame resilience, empowerment, increasing health of interpersonal relationships, neuropsychological and physiological differences in women, attachment styles, codependency, and assertiveness. In a gender-specific environment our clients are not only able to feel more comfortable sharing about personal topics and experiences, but also share experiences with peers that can more closely relate to their perspective. While men and women can relate on many levels, women and men often have very different life experiences by nature. By offering some gender-specific programming we are able to more effectively address women’s needs in a safe and supportive environment.

Trauma-Informed Care

At our core, the Nexus Recovery Services team recognizes the massive impact of trauma on addictive behavior and therefore understand the need for empowerment, collaboration, and safety with and for each and every client.

At an organizational and clinical level, we believe that a Trauma-Informed lens is imperative for the treatment of substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. In our dual-diagnosis women’s treatment program, our experienced team addresses adverse childhood experiences and other traumatic events through a variety of modalities including EMDR, yoga, psychodrama, and attachment theories. All of our therapists are trauma-informed and several are certified in EMDR and other effective trauma treatment modalities.

Community & Sisterhood

With fewer women seeking treatment than men, it is important to foster a treatment community that supports and empowers women in recovery. At Nexus Recovery Services we emphasize the need for women supporting women and requiring our female clients build a support network in the 12 step community along with their Nexus family. Through women’s meetings, sponsorship, and engaging role models on the Nexus team, a sisterhood is built, and ultimately, the cornerstone of success is established for long-term recovery.

Alumni & Family Testimonials

“I have great respect for Nexus Recovery and its associated leadership. I believe in their mission to provide ethical treatment and attention to clinical detail. I have seen many lives come in the door broken and exit with purpose, I am one of them.”

Women and Addiction Treatment, and Recovery

While addiction can develop in anyone for a variety of reasons, there are often gender-related differences that can influence it.
Biological, social, and environmental factors all play a unique role in the development of addiction, the drive to seek help, the type of treatment received, and the risk factors for relapse.

Women are often faced with unique pressures that men do not experience in the same way. While substance abuse can affect anyone, the way a woman with an addiction is viewed by society is different than the way a man is. Women are met with mixed messages about the nature of substance abuse in relation to their role in society and within their families. For example, in recent years, alcoholism has become glorified and celebrated as a common way to cope with stress, motherhood, and other challenges; however, a woman with an addiction faces harsh criticism because of these same reasons. This treatment makes it incredibly difficult for women to be open about their need for help, further compounding feelings of shame and guilt that fuel addiction and increase feelings of isolation. These experiences are only a small representation of the vast a

Addiction in Women

The differences between men and women, both biologically and socially or culturally, can make their experience with addiction very different.

In general, substance abuse disorders progress in women faster than men. This is because women metabolize drugs and alcohol differently. Women often end up becoming exposed to higher concentrations of substances for longer periods of time because their bodies metabolizes it more slowly. Women also tend to be more susceptible to cravings and relapse because of this as a result. Comparatively speaking, in general, a woman can abuse substances for a shorter period of time and experience more dramatic repercussions compared to a man who has been abusing more substances for a longer period of time.

Compared to men, a woman can use smaller amounts of a substance for a shorter period of time and develop an addiction. Hormonal and biological differences can make women more sensitive to the effects of substances, and may make them have more cravings as compared to men. Women are also more likely to experience physical changes due to substance abuse which puts them at an increased risk for emergency room visits or death due to overdose.

Some of the most common symptoms associated with substance abuse in women include:

  • Bruising
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Abrupt weight changes
  • Changes in hygiene
  • Depression
  • Changes in personality
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Criminal behavior



It can be difficult to identify the development of addiction in women, especially when they may go to great lengths to conceal it. Because there are so many signs and symptoms of addiction, identifying it by noting changes from what is considered a person’s “normal” may be the best way to know when a problem has developed.

Women’s Specific Issues

Women are less likely to seek help for addiction due to a number of reasons. In general, women face more barriers than men which can make accessing treatment difficult. Some of the unique barriers and experiences women face include:

Societal Expectations

Compared to men, women experience more stigmas regarding substance abuse. Because women are generally viewed as mothers, caregivers, and vital to a functioning family, a women who struggles with substance abuse can face greater pressure and scrutiny. These stereotypes can make it difficult for a woman to acknowledge a substance abuse problem is developing.

Access to Resources

Women often experience economic barriers due to gender inequality. Overall, women tend to earn less than men due to lower wages and growing pay gaps, which can put women at an increased risk for poverty. A lack of financial resources can make it difficult to seek help for addiction.

Co-occuring Disorders

Women are more likely than men to struggle with a co-occurring disorder. In addition to trauma, women are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. In women who have had children, postpartum depression can also be a potential cause for substance abuse.


A high percentage of women who struggle with addiction have experienced physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. These traumatic experiences can fuel the development of addiction and must be addressed to begin the healing process. Statistically, women are more often victims of abuse than men. Women are more likely to experience trauma that leaves them with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those with a co-occurring mental health disorder are at an increased risk of developing an addiction.

Being a Mother

In addition to fear about how she may be perceived, for those who are mothers, the worry about custody of children can make it even harder to reach out. Women may choose to not engage in treatment or may look to only address co-occurring disorders to avoid the risk of losing their children. This plays a significant role in a woman’s willingness to engage in treatment, further propelling them into a cycle of feeling shame and guilt, and unable to ask for help.

Benefits of Women Specific Treatment

Women begin using substances for different reasons than men.
Addiction develops differently, affects them more dramatically, and requires a unique approach to recovery. Because of these differences, gender-specific treatment can focus on these unique needs and prioritize them in recovery.

Substance abuse for women tends to be private and hidden from others, but it can also be driven by a substance-abusing partner. Women often work to keep their outside appearance together even when they are struggling on the inside, which can worsen her experience as well as negatively impact her relationships. Because many women also struggle with trauma, body image issues, and other gender-specific difficulties, addressing these topics is vital to recovery, but it can be difficult to start the conversation, especially in mixed groups.

Women benefit from gender-specific treatment because it provides them with the ability to discuss sensitive issues among a group of people who can relate to their experiences. In mixed group settings, some of these topics may not be explored because they are uncomfortable and difficult to talk about.

Women greatly benefit from the utilization of community support in recovery and developing this among a group of women can greatly improve recovery outcomes. Not only does it strengthen women’s relationships with other women, but it reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness while simultaneously removing the influence of gender performance expectations that can negatively impact treatment.

While gender-specific treatment is incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons, there is also a lot to gain from co-ed treatment programs. A mixed group can provide women with the opportunity to build healthy relationships with men. It also provides the unique opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations about topics that impact both men and women. It can create a safe space to explore thoughts and ideas with others who have different experiences. This creates a place in which people can learn from one another and gain insight from others who may have a different perspective.

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