A Closer Look: Women and Addiction

It has long been a taboo subject that women struggle with addiction. But the reality is that women do struggle with substance abuse and need help getting sober, the same way that men do. Fairbanks’ recent opening of La Verna Lodge for Women challenges these myths and supplies a special need for the community.

In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by two men and served only men until 1939 when the first female entered the program. In 1945 the forerunner to Fairbanks opened, called The Indiana Home for Alcoholic Men. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Fairbanks began treating women.

“That is the same thinking today because people don’t imagine mothers and grandmothers as alcoholics or drug abusers,” said Fairbanks Adult Outpatient Counselor Diane Stringer.

Women struggle with many different types of substances from alcohol to opioids.

“Women really struggle with everything across the board but there has been a spike in heroin and alcohol. Substance use is also prevalent in sedatives like Xanax to help with depression and anxiety, and stimulants like Adderall to help maintain weight,” Stringer said.

Managing daily life and relationships are common stressors that lead to substance abuse in women.

“Women often try to be superwoman by taking care of the family, going to school and working full time but they aren’t putting themselves first and that is the problem,” Stringer said.

For women, maintaining relationships and emotions can also fuel addiction.

“Women are relationship-focused individuals and can center their lives on them,” Stringer said. “Women have many relationships that vary from a friendship, intimate relationship or family relationship. Therefore, when our relationships are going bad, we feel bad.”

La Verna Lodge for Women helps women address these triggers and teaches coping skills to deal with them. The lodge also focuses on rebuilding confidence in women so they can manage busy schedules and daily life during recovery.

“They are learning life-skills that they may have lost over the years like creating grocery lists, doing laundry and cooking,” Stringer said. “We focus on transitioning because practicing these skills will build confidence that they can do this at home without relying on a substance.”

If you know a woman struggling with addiction that could benefit from our new La Verna Lodge for Women, please call 1.877.290.3946 or visit www.lavernalodge.com.