Women in Recovery

By: Kaleigh Nobbe, Clinical Intern

The processes of recovery in both the area of substance use disorder and mental health present qualities that go far beyond abstinence, symptom reduction, or remission. In the most comprehensive studies to date of how persons who identify themselves as “in recovery,” they endorsed personal growth as part of their recovery. Personal growth and development dimensions of recovery included being honest with oneself, handling negative feelings without using drugs or alcohol, being able to enjoy life without drinking or using drugs, reacting to life’s ups and downs in a more balanced way than one used to, and taking responsibility for the things one can change. The voices of persons in recovery underscore the need for holistic strength-based counseling services with a strong wellness focus tending to their physical, psychological, social, cultural, emotional, relational, and spiritual developmental needs.

A wellness focus to addiction recovery in women needs to account for marked gender differences in societal standards and expectations related to substance use. Historically, women have faced harsher socio-cultural demands and poorer resources in their path to recovery than men. In the North American culture, women struggling with substance addiction have carried social representations of depravity, sexual promiscuity and deviance, and systematically prescribed more medication than men for conditions such as moodiness, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Research shows that women’s needs in recovery from substance use frequently remain undetected as their reluctance to seek support is elicited by socio-economic barriers (e.g., lack of childcare, fear of losing their children to child protection services, guilt, shame, stigma, etc.).

Holistic wellness approaches to women’s recovery from a substance use disorder benefit from consideration given to potential for relapse as part of the process. Researchers contend that counseling services with a wellness focus aimed at building self-regulation skills (e.g., accepting and processing one’s emotions) translate into improved overall wellness for persons in recovery. Some studies on women transitioning from recovery to parenthood draw attention to the fact that the process of reestablishing a sense of self and belonging is continuously impacted by family and community support, as well as sociocultural and systemic challenges. For many women, close family and/or community environment carry numerous stressors, posing risks to the process of recovery through developmental and intergenerational traumatic histories of adversities, poverty, chronically stressful living conditions, domestic violence, gender-based violence, and social stigma. Thus, group therapy workshops incorporate recovery programs and services that equip and empower women’s trust in their own ability to carry on advocating for themselves to access support and affirm their renewed sense of identity.


If you or someone you know is look for treatment related to substance abuse:

SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357

Recovery Centers of America: 1-888-716-1348



To find out how we can assist you in your recovery journey,

call Owens & Associates at 847-854-4333 for a free 15-minute consultation