Childhood Traumas in Females and Alcoholism in Adulthood
PSY8430 – Issues and Trends in Addiction-Related Treatments
In psychology there is a lot of variations of trauma in childhood and women that have a great impact on individuals in adulthood. These traumas have a life lifelong impact on the individual and be very crucial if treatment or counseling is not sought after. Therapist have no idea what issue they may face when counseling anyone. Sometimes, the wounds are so deep mentally, emotionally and physically that resolving the issue may seem impossible. Children of both sexes come to counseling at different ages and from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, upper, middle and lower-class poverty levels. Regardless, of this as a therapist it will our duty to treat everyone with the upmost respect and be empathy when needed. There is also a process in where clients need to be assessed and therapist have to know what tools to use and which ones will be the most valid in the clients' progress. Therapist need to be educated properly and ready to help clients in every ethical way possible. There are several tools needed in order for a therapist to have a successful road to recovery.
Childhood trauma has been among recent stress and depression which is showing a link that leads to heavy drinking in adulthood. Traumatic events vary in their frequency and severity, but many have been associated with depression and heavy drinking later in life, including physical and sexual abuse, parental divorce and exposure to violence (Psychiatric Epidemiol (2013). Children are innocent and our responsibility to protect but there are times in life when this may not be possible for several reasons. The main scope of my paper is about the role childhood traumatic experiences play in female alcoholism. This is a topic that we may not hear about but the learner believes there is definitely a link between the two. Alcoholism is a behavioral disorder in which genetics and environmental exposure play a part to the clinical condition. There seems to be two different subtypes of alcoholism which are type I and type II. Woman that are alcohol dependent from abuse seem to also have other problems, then woman who were not abused. Woman face barriers that have to be overcome in order for treatment to be successful.
Relevant Review of Literature
Addiction is a very complex area in psychology. Addictions such as alcoholism can be difficult to treat. When an individual seeks therapy for a dependency of alcohol, there is a greater chance for recovery of that addiction. In this process there could be a variety of therapies that could be helpful. Therapists concur with each other that substance abuse treatment in women should be approached by how the women lives her life. This could include her social and economic environment as well as her relationships with friends and family. We also must put into consideration the impact of gender and culture.
According, to studies from both clinical and community-based samples have shown that severe childhood trauma, such as emotional, physical and sexual abuse, is associated with increased vulnerability to addiction (Kendler et al. 1993; McCauley et al. 1997; Wilsnack et al. 1997; Simpson & Miller, 2002; Sartor et al. 2007). There seems to be a high association connected to childhood trauma and alcoholism.
There also has been several other studies that show childhood trauma is associated with depression and heavy drinking in adulthood. Childhood trauma possibly leads to depression due responses of stress. Those who experience trauma in childhood seem to have a low tolerance for stress as an adult. It has been suggested that the link between childhood trauma and alcohol abuse is due to individuals using alcohol as a means to reduce the effects of a dysregulated biological
stress response system or reduce the symptoms of depression (De Bellis, 2002). Females seem to have a great deal of depression. Age of the trauma does not seem to matter when it comes to heavy drinking. Alcohol abuse is very common in the United States. It is said that 7 to 12% of women are alcoholics. Female drinking is socially acceptable now a days.
There are several different biological factors that can lead to organ damage when it comes to alcohol consumption. Women will have a higher vulnerability to the physiological effects of alcohol abuse then a man. This is due in part of alcohol being more water soluble. A women’s body has more fat tissue then a man’s body and this means that a woman will have a higher blood alcohol content. For women that continued to drink after being diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis suffered from severe liver disease. Here more women lost their life to cirrhosis of the liver. This tells us that female alcoholics seem to be at a higher risk in death and permanent disability.
There is also an enlarged number of female alcoholics that suffer from cognitive damage. This is a result of long-term alcohol use. There is much debate on whether or not alcoholism is genetically inclined or if this disease is just an individual choice to use as a coping mechanism. It may be also be affected by one’s environment and/or cultural influences, possibly all maybe a factor. Women with early onset type of alcoholism show a marked decrease in the amplitude of the P300, which is correlated with significant deficits in the information processing functions in the brain (Hill, 1995).
The psychosocial factors can only be acknowledged by a systemic perspective. Women are constantly suffering emotionally and socially when it comes to drinking. Female alcoholics also experience discrimination more so them men, it seems to be a double standard in society. The etiology of alcoholism in women and societal perceptions of women who drink can be more fully understood in the context of Finklestein’s (1993a) relational model.
Society has commanded that women play several different roles such as being the caretaker of the family, a mom, a wife, sex partner to name a few. If a woman strays away from these roles and chooses other things to do she is often chastised. Because of this demand women tend to turn to alcohol as a means of coping with stress and life overall. Women that drink heavily tend to internalize their feelings, which may lead to anxiety and depression. Alcoholism in women is frowned upon and is said to be an eccentric behavior. In the early 1900’s women who drank heavily could be committed to what was called an insane asylum. And once committed a woman would be subjected to what is called a hysterectomy without her given consent. This is just another form of abuse that a female would have to experience in her lifetime. No one should take your option of having children, it should be the choice of the individual.
Women seem to develop substance disorders, quicker than men, this is due to the physiological effects of drugs and alcohol. It is known that women suffer with severe complications from alcohol use. Some of these complications are high blood pressure, heart problems, different cancers to name a few.
In today’s era there is a huge disapproval to women that drink heavily. The woman is said to be showing a sign of weakness. In recent studies it said that woman that are alcoholics are prone to be a victim of sexual aggression towards others. This can lead to a world of destruction for the female. There was a National survey taken and adult women had the highest rate of alcohol problems, like driving under the influence or being belligerent. Early studies sought to seek if heredity and the females’ environment had any responsibility in their alcoholism. Records were compared in alcohol related problems with that of the individuals’ parents, for some of there was a relevance that was discovered.
Alcohol and drug dependent women have a high rate of sexual abuse reports, including rape and incest. A recent study showed 74 percent of alcohol dependent women had disclosed they were sexually abused (Wilsnack, 1984). Female children and adult women deal with many stressors, such as neglect and verbal abuse from a husband or father. Women tend to isolate themselves from others once the physical, sexual or emotional abuse begins. They begin to feel embarrassed or question if it’s their fault. And with this being said women will not seek therapy due to fear or not enough resources. They also go through a period of denial for the abuse and the addiction. This does them more harm than good. Most women if married will wait until they are divorced before seeking treatment.
It is sad but true that women endure a greater amount of death then men. The deaths are by suicide, violence, health issues such as cirrhosis of the liver and heart issues. Women will have more health and family problems for their reasoning of drinking.
When trying to diagnosis alcoholism in woman, the amount of alcohol that is consumed plays an important part. Even though the women may present as an alcoholic, she still drinks less than a man. Research in this field, is slim to none and pretty much goes by a lot of myths about women alcohol abuse. There is Gender-Responsive treatment that is very important for women seeking substance abuse treatment. There are some core principles with gender responsive treatment such as:
There are specific characteristics that are only for females and have to be included in their treatment. There is also several barriers and obstacles that women face when trying to seek treatment. Many women that struggle with alcohol use have children and they won’t seek treatment due to the fact that they fear losing their children. The department of social service look down upon this and will place the children in foster care. With that being said most women will decline treatment or stop going altogether. This is why family services is also an important part of alcohol treatment. There is also a need for parenting skills training to improve the mother’s confidence.
Treatment Issues (con’t)
The treatment for females has to be something understood by the therapists and the therapist has to realize that the women does have a role in society. A woman will get better results from a counselor that has more interpersonal skills and show more empathy. The therapist should be trained in social skills and problem solving and help the female with her self-esteem. Again, it is a fact that most females who abuse alcohol have been abused sexually or physically. So these are also issues that have to be worked through in treatment. A treatment based on empowering the woman will be very helpful for those that suffered abuse. Possibly getting the client some additional counseling. There is vocational counseling and education that have to be sought after in gender treatment.
Counseling and Assessment
In order for a successful outcome of treatment therapy must address all of the issues at hand. Treatment can be done individually or in a group setting based on the individual preference. As, research indicates, there is a demonstrated multigenerational transmission of alcoholism; family therapy would be indicated to address the issues when they present themselves (Finkelstein, 1993b). Treatment can be outpatient or inpatient depending on the individual preference and the severity of the addiction. There has to be a positive family support team for the individual. It is very important for the female to attend AA meetings on a regular. A difficult part of therapy is making sure the client is paired with the appropriate counselor for their addiction.
The sooner a woman enters into rehabilitation, it will be better for her. There may be some contemplating from the individual but she should be reassured that she making a commitment to help save her life. Here is when the help of a professional will make the process a reality and let one know of the difficulty involved in recovery. At this point a plan of action is put into play. There is always the possibility of relapsing so the female has to fight through the temptations, by making sure she attends her meetings regularly.
There are several instruments that need to done. A full assessment needs to be done by doing a complete psychological and physical history. This will help the therapist write up a plan of action and integrate the individuals’ goals as well. This will also tell the therapist of the client’s strengths and weaknesses. Spirituality is another part of treatment that can help the females’ addiction. Spirituality gives the addicted woman a more constructive purpose for her life during this vulnerable time in her life. All issues should be addressed during counseling to make sure every aspect is covered for a successful outcome. A client’s biopsychosocial strengths should always be discussed often during treatment. This will help in her sobriety. The therapist cannot just focus on the alcoholism because it does not bring forth a positive outcome.
Alcoholism in women is a problem that until recent never really got much attention. There definitely should be more research done on a continuous basis. The more support that females get for alcohol addiction the better. Keep in mind that women are caretakers for us all and that these women usually have been abused in some sort of way emotionally, physically or sexually.
There should always be a continuous of care for these women and it should be very comprehensive. It is called a transition period. There will probably be a more positive outcome if the woman is allowed to stay at the same facility where she probably feels comfortable. Relapse depends on the individual and their desire to really want to stay sober.
There are several jurisdictions presently working to improve alcohol treatment issues. Brief interventions are and can be effective. They can also coincide with other treatments and a referral may not be required. Evidence based treatment is fairly new but has spread throughout psychology. This type of treatment is used once data is collected from various options of treatment that has been tested. There is a very low percentage of drug rehabilitation centers that use this form of treatment. There comes a time when the brain will lose control the addiction and when this happens sometimes behavior therapy may be necessary. Trying to overcome any addiction is never easy and constantly requires continuous therapy in order to have lifelong success.
Brady, T. M., & Ashley, O. S. (Eds.). Women in substance abuse treatment: Results from the Alcohol and Drug Services Study (ADSS). Retrieved December 10, 2008 from https://permanent.access.gpo.gov/LPS68037/womenTX.pdf
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Finkelstein, N. (1993 b). Treatment programming for alcohol and drug dependent pregnant women. International Journal of Addictions, 28, 1275-1309.
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