Alcoholism has been a fixture in our society since the first introduction of alcohol. Despite it being an equal opportunity disease, a large majority of not only the treatment, but also the research, has been about men. This lack of consideration of the different needs for men and women has led to many women going through recovery systems that do not address their experiences, and therefore do not allow them to take full advantage of that recovery system. This paper will attempt to look at the different experiences that men and women have in their journey through a substance addiction (particularly alcohol), from addiction through recovery. The main recovery method that will be discussed here is Alcoholics Anonymous. As an
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A woman as an alcoholic is a role that has long been ignored, which has led to a serious deficiency in the treatments. The unique problems that women have when compared with men have gone "underrecognized and undertreated" (Mondanaro, 1989). Despite comprising more than half of the United States population, women, in 1987, comprised only 19 percent of those enrolled in federally funded alcohol treatment programs (Mondanaro, 1989). One of the latent results of this lack of women in the treatment programs is that the recovering male alcoholics, as well as the clinicians running the treatment programs are not used to the different ways in which women respond to techniques of treatment. Substance addictions and the ensuing treatment process are such complicated processes, with many issues to consider, many programs may overlook the gendered ideologies that are inevitably brought into the mix, therefore not offering the most appropriate treatment for any given situation (Bepko, 1991).
An important issue to discuss is the reasons behind women becoming heavy drinkers in the first place. There have been many studies to measure the drinking habits of women compared with men; most of them report men drinking more often or more heavily (or both). However, almost every study reports that female drinking is on the rise in the last few decades (Gomberg, 1991). The