Menu Close

Contact Insight Recovery Today

Learn more about Insight Recovery by visiting our contact page or giving us a call.

Understanding How Trauma Impacts Women in Recovery

one young woman reaching out to another young woman who understands how trauma impacts women in recovery

Most people will experience some form of trauma in their life. Whether the traumatic event happens to you or someone you love, traumatic events are an inevitable part of existence. For example, car accidents, the unexpected loss of a loved one, and health conditions are common traumatic events. However, there are different trauma factors that can increase the risk for disorders like substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health disorders. Therefore, different types of traumas and gender can impact the experiences women in recovery have with trauma.

The factors that impact women’s experiences with trauma and co-occurring disorders highlight the importance of gender-specific care in treatment. At Insight Recovery Center, we are committed to supporting gender-specific treatment to meet the unique needs of women in treatment. Moreover, addressing the specific needs of women in recovery can support whole-person care for trauma and co-occurring disorders. Yet, you may wonder what makes the traumas women experience different from other groups of people.

Trauma and Women in Recovery

According to “PTSD is More Likely in Women Than Men” by Dale Vernor, 60% of men and 50% of women in the United States have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life. However, women are twice as likely as men to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the article notes, there are a few different factors that may contribute to women’s increased risk for PTSD:

  • Types of trauma
    • Women are more likely to experience sex-related traumas
    • More likely to experience childhood sexual abuse
  • Cultural and gender roles
    • Increased prevalence of PTSD in communities that emphasize traditional gender roles
  • Coping strategies
    • Women cope with stress through connection with a support network
      • Non-existent support or unhealthy connection can increase vulnerability to PTSD

Moreover, gender expectations highlight the impact gender can play in psychological distress for women in recovery. In particular, childhood trauma has had a profound impact on the co-occurrence of disorders women in recovery experience.

The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

As noted in an article from Frontiers in Psychiatry, approximately 30% of mental health disorders have a correlation with childhood trauma. In addition, there is a high occurrence of the development of SUD following traumatic events. While SUD is more prevalent among men, women with SUD are more likely to report a history of childhood trauma.

Moreover, the traumas women in recovery experience include physical and emotional neglect, as well as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Whereas, as Vernor states, men are more likely to experience trauma from physical assault, accidents, combat, disasters, and witnessing death or injuries. While all forms of trauma can be harmful, many of the traumas men may experience can be indirect.

Therefore, the traumas women in recovery experience in childhood and adulthood are interpersonal and high-impact traumas. According to “Women Who Experience Trauma are Twice as Likely as Men to Develop PTSD” by Amy Novotney, experiencing chronic interpersonal trauma increases the risk for mental health disorders like PTSD. Moreover, experiencing chronic interpersonal trauma early in life can have a deeper impact on well-being. In addition, your access to healthy coping strategies in childhood is limited to the actions of the adults around you.

The increased risk of SUD and PTSD for women in recovery showcases how trauma and SUD, and mental health disorders can overlap. Moreover, understanding the experiences of women in recovery can give you insight into how co-occurring disorders can impede long-term wellness.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders for Women in Recovery

As noted in an article from MedlinePlus, co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis often share some correlation. While co-occurring disorders are not always necessarily a direct cause for one or the other, they can impede each other. For example, difficulties coping with psychological distress like PTSD may lead to self-medicating with substances. Moreover, co-occurring disorders can complicate treatment and recovery as their interaction can worsen each other.

As noted in an article from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), co-occurring SUD and PTSD can impede multiple areas of your life:

  • Sleep issues
  • Health issues such as chronic pain
  • Avoidance of thoughts and memories
  • Dreams of the trauma
  • Relationship issues, such as feeling numb and disconnected from others, distancing yourself from loved ones, and feeling constantly on guard
  • Difficulties functioning in daily life

The increased risk of negative health outcomes from co-occurring disorders highlights the need to address how women in recovery are impacted by trauma.

Benefits of Gender-Specific Care for Women in Recovery

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a gender-responsive approach to care and culturally responsive health care can have positive outcomes for women in recovery. As many women in recovery experience co-occurring SUD and PTSD in correlation with interpersonal entanglements.

The constructs that shape gender can impact the types of experiences women have and how they respond to those experiences. Therefore, gender-specific care incorporates treating the whole person with approaches like trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed care can be beneficial to women in recovery to address the impact of trauma. The interconnected relationship between trauma, SUD, and PTSD highlights the importance of acknowledging the need for treatment that considers the needs of the whole person.

Meeting the Needs of Women at Insight Recovery Center

At Insight Recovery Center, we believe treating the whole person is an important part of the recovery journey. The experiences of women in recovery are unique and often specific to the expectations of gender roles and identity. Without approaches that consider individual experiences like gender-specific and trauma-informed care, only part of you is treated. Thus, discovering your recovery means addressing your specific experiences and needs to support your healing journey. We are committed to providing integrative care to give you the individualized support you deserve on your journey to long-term recovery.

Women are more likely to have a history of chronic interpersonal trauma, especially in childhood. As societal expectations of gender roles and identity often increase women’s risk of sex-related traumas, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and co-occurring substance use. Thus, approaches to care like gender-specific care recognize the impact gender can have on the trauma and disorders women in recovery experience. Insight Recovery Center is dedicated to providing integrative care that focuses on healing the whole person rather than forcing you into a one-size-fits-all box. When you have the space to process your individual experiences, you can start healing. You can learn more about the benefits of gender-specific treatment for women in recovery by calling Insight Recovery Center at (828) 845-8325.