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Special alcohol and drug treatment needed for women

Feb. 25, 2014 @ 09:19 AM

Battling addiction is not easy for anyone. But for women — particu­larly mothers — there are even more obstacles on the road to recovery.

Although men are still more likely to use illicit drugs, women are not too far behind. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates about 6.9 percent of women over age 12 are involved in drug use, and 5.9 percent of pregnant women are, too.

That translates into millions of women who need help. But as with men, there are limited treatment options, and even fewer that provide the special assistance that troubled women often need.

During a symposium on women and addiction last week at Marshall University, experts pointed out that women can face unique barriers including child care issues, abusive relationships and little or no support system .

Prestera has 50 beds dedicated to women's treatment services, including 18 cottages for women with children in Huntington. Prestera's program has been very successful, but it often has a long waiting list.

While it might seem that mothers with addictions should be seeking help because of their children, too often it works just the other way. The top reason women do not seek help is because they fear exposing their addiction could mean their children will be taken away, MU clinical psychologist Dr. Penny Koontz told the symposium audi­ence.

“They have no confidence that they will be assisted and not be pun­ished,” she said.

One of the goals of the new HER Place group is to provide what orga­nizers call an integrated program that would provide rehabilitation services for women and a conve­nient, safe environment for their children. As with The Healing Place program for men, the HER Place effort would use peer recovery coaches — women who have been through treatment themselves and trained to share that experience and motivation .

Organizers are temporarily based in the Barnett Center off Hal Greer Boulevard as they seek grants and financial support to establish a per­manent home in Douglass Centre on 10th Avenue.

We applaud their effort and hope the community can provide the sup­port needed to get that project off the ground. For more information about the program and how you can help, call Margaret at HerPlaceHu­ntington@gmail.com or call 304-522-2460.

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