Women and Addiction - Appearance on NBC News


Dr. Regina is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, an Addiction Specialist and Clinical Director of two San Diego Women’s Addiction & Recovery programs. Dr. Regina speaks the truth about Women, Addiction and Recovery with NBC Channel 7.


3 B’s to know about Women, Addiction & Recovery

By Dr. Regina

We know from addiction research that there are 3 B’s to keep in mind when it comes to Women, Addiction and Recovery:

1.     BIOLOGY: Women progress in the disease of addiction more quickly than men because we process alcohol differently. Empirical data has proven that women statistically become both addicted and suffer more health consequences much faster than men. This rapid progression happens because we are physiologically more vulnerable – biologically different from men.

a.     Women’s bodies are smaller, we weigh less and process alcohol differently than men.

b.     Higher percent of body fat: We have a lower ratio of water to fat content than men. This means alcohol stays in our bodies longer, stays in our bloodstream longer, and thus has more time to affect our brain and organs.

c.     Women addicted to alcohol are more likely to develop health problems associated with addiction (liver disease, increased risk for breast cancer, brain damage etc.)

d.     Enzymes- women have lower amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) in the stomach which breaks down and metabolizes alcohol – so again, alcohol stays in a woman’s system longer.

e.     Hormone fluctuations also cause women to respond to substances differently than men.

f.      Roughly 1 drink for a man is closer to 2 drinks for a woman.

2.     BARRIERS: Although, historically men have had a higher prevalence rate of substance use disorders as compared to women, however we know from the U.S. Surgeon General’s recent report in November of 2016 that this gender gap is rapidly closing. However, women are less likely to go to treatment than men. For every 3 men admitted to addiction treatment, only 1 woman seeks admission (of those addicted and seeking treatment: 67% are men and only 33% are women): Why? Women have more barriers to accessing treatment:  

a.     Economic challenges- treatment costs money. It is well documented that women across the US are paid on average, $.80 on the dollar compared to men. Women statistically have a less favorable economic disposition. Additionally for women with children, the pay is even less- (known as the “mommy tax”)- it drops to .70-78 cents on the dollar. Whereas men who have children statistically make more than men who don’t.

b.     Childcare: women are typically the primary household and childcare givers. This makes it harder for women with children to leave the home for treatment. Additionally, women often refuse to go to away treatment or ask for help because they fear that they may lose custody of their children. Please note that residential treatment is not always the answer and there are less invasive outpatient options (See below).

3.     BALLERS: So we now know the first 2 B’s of women, addiction and recovery: The disease of addiction progresses faster in women due to their BIOLOGY and that they are less likely to go into to treatment due to gender specific BARRIERS - but in contrast, the third B is a huge positive. The success rate for women who get into addiction treatment is as high or in many cases higher than it is for men. In other words, although women are more likely to progress in disease of addiction faster than men and less likely to enter treatment due to social and economic barriers, Women are BALLERS when it comes to recovering! Research has shown that women struggle less with Recovery.

a.     What is a “Baller”? The term “baller” originally referred ball players that made it out of the streets to make millions as a pro ball player or One who exhibits a consistent proficiency at-, or exuberant love for the game of basketball. This term has evolved beyond basketball – it now denotes someone who has grit, someone who has become successful by their own merit despite the barriers. And women are recovery ballers.

The deck may be stacked against women biologically- they progress in disease of addiction much faster than men. They have more health concerns and health risks associated with addiction than men. They have more barriers for getting into treatment and attend treatment at a lower rate than men. However, once given the opportunity to recover- women who enter addiction treatment- learn, play and master the recovery game as well as and often better than men.

BOTTOMS UP: Do not wait to “hit bottom”. There is no such thing. A bottom is a choice. It is a decision to change your reality. Make a call today. Nothing changes until something changes. Take action.

TAKE ACTION NOW. If you have a wife, daughter, mother, sister, friend or colleague suffering from addiction, remove the barriers and get her into treatment now:


1.     Private Practice: Call Dr. Regina to set up a private practice session 858-353-8530. You can also text me at this number.

2.     Outpatient: Call Confidential Recovery to set up appointment for more intensive outpatient care in the women’s only addiction treatment outpatient program lead by Dr. Regina  www.confidentialrecovery.com Call 619-452-1200

3.     Residential: Call Villa Kali Ma Women’s Residential treatment program www.villakalima.com 619-246-8862. Dr. Regina is also the clinical director of this women’s only addiction treatment residential program in San Diego.


THERE IS HOPE. Research has shown that women who get into treatment earlier in the progression of addiction have a greater chance at full recovery AND women’s treatment specific programs enhance her chance at successful recovery.

She can do this. And I can help her.


Love & Light

Dr. Regina