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The Need

The Barriers Women Face
"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."
- Alice Walker

When it comes to addiction, women face many challenges that men do not, from motherhood to systemic gender inequalities to basic biology. Rather than relying on traditional treatment programs developed by men that focused on a more disciplinary mindset, the founders of Our Hope recognized that women need and deserve an empowered approach to their recovery - a path providing warmth, empathy, and healing. 

Combined with the unique needs of women, barriers to treatment cause too many women throughout the area and beyond to fall through the cracks.

Because the treatment window for those willing to accept help is very small, any service hurdles can derail a potential client from taking the necessary steps needed to fully recover. Each passing moment outside of treatment leads to greater physical and mental harm from alcohol or drug use, or worse yet, risk of death for women across our community. We can no longer allow this. 

Lives are at stake every day. That's why ensuring the success of the $3 million Rising Through Recovery campaign is so vital. 

Women and Addiction
5 Facts






Compared to men, addiction has a more significant physical toll on women. Women have a lower body weight, higher concentrations of body fat and less water content in their bodies. That means they not only achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in their bloodstream after consuming the same amount as men, but that the alcohol also remains in their bodies longer.

Women experience higher rates of liver disease, cancer, circulatory issues and other serious health problems due to alcohol abuse. They also suffer more gender-specific medical problems as a result, such as higher rates of infertility, miscarriage and premature delivery.

According to the American Journal on Addictions, 75% of women who enter substance abuse treatment programs report having experienced physical/sexual abuse versus only 10-15% of males with substance use disorder.

Females with substance use disorder are seven times more likely to suffer from depression. In fact, more females with addiction suffer from co-occurring mental and emotional health issues, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and low self-esteem. without proper diagnosis and treatment, these conditions decrease the likelihood of sustained recovery for substance users. 

Women have a more direct impact on their children's health and quality of life. Kinds living with mothers suffering with addiction experience depression/anxiety disorders, problems with cognitive and verbal skills, abuse or neglect, and are four times more likely to abuse substances themselves. 

Service Access

Right now, access to consolidated recovery services in a single facility does not exist in West Michigan. As a result, current clients either have to visit multiple different treatment facilities for withdrawal management, residential treatment, and aftercare services or find the means to travel up north to Boyne Falls or to Richmond on the east side of the state to receive both services at one place. If women have to travel to multiple facilities for care, they often don't follow up with residential treatment, a crucial component of lasting recovery. 

Michigan is below average for the number of detoxification services per population compared to the U.S. average. There is only one withdrawal management unit in West Michigan that accepts Medicaid. Wait times vary widely with lengths as long as 7 days. Delays to withdrawal management services impede on the rest of treatment. 

Transportation to non-emergency services is a barrier to treatment across the state. With each level of care provided by a different organization, transportation is that much harder. Lack of transportations needs stop people from going to treatment or continuing treatment. Unsafe and non-sober supporting transportation can cause relapse between services.

West Michigan does not currently have a handicap accessible facility for women where substance use treatment is the primary program. These women who are ready to seek substance use treatment struggle to find a treatment center able to meet their physical needs and must seek treatment in another region of the state.

Women are more likely to be the primary caregiver/head of single parent households. The dilemma of accessing reliable, affordable and trusted childcare while away in recovery is a struggle. Therefore, the fear of being labeled 'unfit' and losing custody of their children is a common treatment deterrent for women with substance use disorder.

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