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 observation addition to this assignment, I sat in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Kerrville, TX. The meeting was on Thanksgiving Day at noon. I took detailed notes of the meeting, while keeping a watchful eye for any gendered interactions during the flow of the meeting.
Prior to the discussion of the gender differences in alcoholism and its treatment, the definitions of who is an alcoholic is necessary.
Alcoholics are people with a disease that can be defined in medical terms and requires a proper regime of treatment. Alcoholics are addicted to alcohol. Alcoholic addicts are unable spontaneously give up drinking. Though they may go without a drink for a few days, or sometimes even longer periods, inevitably they revert. The greater the need to stop drinking, the more difficult they find it to do so.
Most alcoholics proceed to a stage where their brains or their bodies have been so harmed by alcohol that the effects persist even when they are not drinking. This stage may be reached by some excessive drinkers who had not manifested addiction. It is called chronic alcoholism. The term should only be applied when the body has been physically damaged alcohol (Robinson, 1976).
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...