Mexico City Develops Standards for Treating Female Substance Abusers
Gabriela Reyes Sanchez - Global Press Journal
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February 22, 2016

Mndez, who asked that only her last name be used, was addicted to alcohol, marijuana and inhalants, known in Mexico by the slang word activo.

"I didn't like the smell of activo, it disgusted me, but I did like the sensation. I would hallucinate, and I wouldnt feel sad anymore, she says. At the beginning, I thought that I did drugs to coexist. But you realize that it is also to fill a void and the pain."

At 24 years old, this is Mndezs second stay in a substance abuse rehabilitation facility.

But unlike last time, she sought out a treatment facility for women, a rare find in Mexicos capital city.

She says shes abused alcohol since she was 14, and started drugs at 17.

Mndez lowers her voice as she looks down, and says it is difficult to admit having been a drug addict. She thought she was in control, she says, that she could stop whenever she wanted to. But by the time she realized how desperate her situation was, she felt there was no turning back.

When she finally got the strength to go into rehab the first time, she didnt realize how challenging the environment would be for a woman.

Her first rehabilitation center, which she declined to name for fear of retribution, was coed. Female residents were forbidden to socialize, share cigarettes or even speak to the men, she says.

He says IAPA has trained staff and provided them courses about women's basic necessities and treatment plans that respect women's rights.

Almost always, rehabilitation is aimed at men, Segura Gonzlez says.

Olga Badillo Gonzlez agrees.

She opened the Crisol Amor y Esperanza rehabilitation center after working at another coed facility. She says she opened her own center after seeing first-hand the need to support women and provide them with specific care.

When women were included in the same therapy activities as men in mixed centers, for example, she says, women often felt uncomfortable sharing personal details.

This limits rehabilitation, Badillo Gonzlez says. We noticed that the girls, when they are treated in different ways, they have a rehabilitation that is much more health conscious and structured.

Badillo Gonzlez says her center, as one of the six centers piloting treatment programs for women, has received training and support from IAPA.

Cecilia Prez Rodrguez, 26, is the director of La Perla Mexicana, another of the six centers working with IAPA.

She says the center is researching the best ways to offer treatment to women in a society that stigmatizes women addicts, she says.

Women face major social stigmatization when it comes to drug abuse and treatment, says Mnica Martnez Arroyo, a professor at the University of the Incarnate Words campus in Mexico City. Even going to a rehab center is stigmatized becuase women who seek treaktment are judged for abandoning their social roles and obligations as wives and mothers, she says.

Martnez Arroyo is working on an investigation with Stanford University in California that focuses on treatment for drug addicts who come from conditions of poverty.

She says its risky to place men and women in the same centers because of a likelihood of physical or sexual abuse. There is a coersive effect at play when women are in centers, she says.

So far, there is anecdotal evidence that women-only centers work.

Mndez recently graduated from Fundacin Jvenes Tlatilco. She says she feels she now has the tools she needs to stay clean.

Translated by Natalia Aldana

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Photo: El Centro Especializado en Adicciones para Mujeres Crisol, Amor y Esperanza

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