Women in Treatment
Despite society’s progression and an increase of female equality in 21st century India, there is still an incredibly powerful and unshakeable social stigma attached to recognizing female substance addicts. In Western societies, people are far more aware of these women, thus show a higher level of understanding and compassion towards helping them. This magnanimous attitude is negligible in our nation. Indians still consider it as an unspoken and shameful taboo to imagine that our women could be potential drug/alcohol addicts.
Our reluctance to openly speak on this issue is simply unacceptable. ‘Brushing the problem under the carpet’ is not the answer. India cannot afford to hide from this serious predicament wherein the number of sufferers is increasing exponentially. Due to our social and cultural image of women as untainted and virtuous pillars of strength, many Indians find it unacceptable to consider our women might secretly be crumbling from the inside. The hard fact is that many women are going through emotional turmoil, which they then mask with their drug of choice, thus perpetuating their addiction. They are too frightened to admit they have a problem. They feel by admitting their problem, they will rip their family, social and work image to shreds. They do not know how to begin approaching the topic with their husbands, other male relatives, employer, doctor etc. In her mind, her biggest fear is that her close ones and the wider society will label her as immoral or loose-character and shun her away.
Not only is it hard to the woman to express herself, it is also embarrassing and heart-wrenching for the woman’s family, employer, doctor etc. to hear that she has a problem. For these people, it seems easier to deny or ignore the status quo. They believe that somehow their reputation will be irreversibly destroyed if her ‘dirty little secret’ is released into mainstream society. Due to this cowardly and false belief, millions of women are not seeking or entering treatment.
However, a tiny fraction of women do find support through groups such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) but this number is incredibly small; it is only the tip of the iceberg. The true and exact figure of female substance addicts is shadowed in obscurity.
We (as the Indian nation) need to be aware that millions of women are suffering ‘behind closed doors’ at the hands of their devastating addiction. We must unite and reach out to these women! If we desist, we are running the risk of wiping out a generation of daughters, wives, mothers and grandmothers. Effective and immediate treatment strategies need to be sought now! We are eradicating their chance of living a healthy, happy and successful life if we remain inactive. This is why we Indians need to implement a solution rapidly. In India, substance addiction is a male-dominated problem that has a male-orientated solution. Consequently, the poor female addict has no idea where to turn to.
The viable treatment solution for female addicts is women-only, inpatient detoxification, correction and rehabilitation centres across the country. These de addiction centre for females would be run by recovering female addicts and women with experience of working in the addiction treatment field. The creation of these centres would save countless lives and preserve a promising and shining future for generations of female addicts and women.