While women and men are both subject to addiction, women experience addiction and recovery differently. It’s important for women who are going through the recovery process to have their unique needs and challenges addressed, and also to find women in recovery to look up to. Often, that person is a counselor, sponsor or peer. Aside from that, there are a good many women in the spotlight who have made it through the darkness of addiction and into the light of recovery. They often have inspiring stories and lessons to teach us.
While no person, regardless of their profession, is immune to the disease of addiction, there are professions that seem to have higher numbers of people with addictions. The entertainment industry is one such profession. The lifestyle of a star, although in many ways enviable, often leads to a detachment from reality and excessive behavior that lends itself to substance use. In addition, childhood and adolescent issues often contribute to addiction, especially in women.
A Rough Start
Mary J. Blige grew up in a neighborhood where violent crime was common, she witnessed her father physically abuse her mother and at age five she was sexually abused. She kept this abuse secret until she was 30 years old.
Like many women, Blige confesses that she has issues with confidence and feeling lovable. Women who are exposed to violence as children, and who have been sexually abused often grow up with these feelings. And no matter how successful you become in your chosen field, or how much money you have, these feelings will persist if they are unaddressed.
Mary found her success at a young age. She was a millionaire by age 21, however, the money, success and fame did not erase years of trauma. In fact, it only served to increase her feelings of anxiety and isolation, and thrust her into a world of parties and excess.
Women who have experienced trauma are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to cope.
Years Of Addiction
Her addiction continued over the years, until she finally made the decision to stop. She spoke of the overdose and death of Whitney Houston, and how it impacted her and contributed to her decision to seek a different way of life. Her partying lifestyle was out of control, and her “friends” were also drinking and drugging while she paid for it all. She revealed that she didn’t feel she deserved what she had. Like other women in the throes of addiction, her life was unmanageable and chaotic, and she was powerless to do anything about it. When she was finally ready to do the work and surrender, her life changed. It wasn’t easy, and nothing is perfect, but she is in a much better place today.
Blige has several years clean and sober now, and although she still struggles with self-esteem and other issues, she has been able to create a better life for herself. She speaks openly of her addiction, her recovery and her faith. It’s important for women in recovery to reach out to one another, because addiction is such an isolating experience. Many women are hesitant to trust others, to come forward and get help, often due to shame or fear. It’s important to understand that you are not alone, and that women who have had similar experiences have walked through their fear and sought recovery.
Getting Help For Addiction
If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. Our program is for women only, and is able to address the unique needs of women. We offer a safe, secure and serene environment, and our therapies and treatments promote healing and growth. It isn’t just about not using substances, it’s about recovery, and that is what you will find at Wayside House. Contact us at 800-655-0817.