Learn / Women for Sobriety: Healing with Your Sisters
Women face a different set of challenges than men during addiction recovery. Surrounding yourself with like-minded women can help you feel more supported and open during your recovery journey.
Women for Sobriety (WFS) does just that. They are a women’s only peer-support program designed for overcoming substance use disorders. Like WFS, attending a women’s only rehab can meet you where you’re at and guide you on the path to sobriety.
In the past 25 years, research has shown that there are significant gender differences in alcohol and drug recovery1. Because of this, treatment and professionals need to adapt to uniquely serving both men and women.
This is where Women for Sobriety (WFS)2 comes in. Founder Jean Kirkpatrick, a sociologist, had been an alcoholic for many years. She tried Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) but felt that something was missing. That’s when she found out that the success rates of recovery were higher for men than women. After her own journey of achieving, and maintaining, sobriety, she kick started WFS in 1975.
WFS runs on the core belief that “[women] have the power of changing [their] way of thinking. [They] live in the atmosphere created by [their] mind and [their] thoughts.” The organization helps you realize that you have the power to change, and that choosing positivity will create a positive reality. WFS does not have any religious affiliations; however, it can be used alongside other religious recovery support groups for women.
Their New Life program3 promotes lasting change through:
WFS has 13 empowering statements that their members follow, similar to AA’s 12 Steps. These affirmations help guide your daily life in a positive, motivated direction. WFS breaks down these 13 statements into their 6 Levels of Recovery. As you move through each level and continue on your journey with WFS, you’ll focus on growing in all different areas of your life.
Level 1: Acceptance of having a substance use disorder, one that requires the cessation of substance use. (Acceptance statement 1) You’ll learn to come to terms with your addiction, and realize that sobriety is necessary. You’ll learn more about substance use disorders and how to care for your mind and body.
Level 2: Discarding negative thoughts, putting guilt behind, and practicing new ways of viewing and solving problems. (Acceptance statements 2, 4, and 9) You’ll examine what factors in your life are problem areas. You’ll pick out negative habits and thought patterns and actively work on shifting those to healthy ones. You’ll recognize that you don’t need to let your problems overwhelm you and see them as growing opportunities.
By this stage, you’ll have 1.) a regular exercise routine and 2.) way of relaxation and meditation.
Level 3: Creating and practicing a new self-image. (Acceptance statements 5 and 12) This is the phase where you tap into your power. You’ll take responsibility for your feelings and behaviors, and you’ll let go of people, situations, and things outside of your control.
You’ll be picky about what energy you allow into your life, so that you can create a positive environment. You’ll learn that one mistake does not ruin all the hard work you’ve done. You’ll create the self-image of a powerful, confident woman who owns her life.
Level 4: Using new attitudes to enforce new behavior patterns. (Acceptance statements 3, 6, and 11) During this level, you’ll learn to choose happiness every single day. You’ll adopt a positive attitude that you can share with your loved ones. And every day, you’ll seek out magic in the ordinary.
Level 5: Improving relationships as a result of our new feelings about self. (Acceptance Statements 7 and 10) You’ll learn to be vulnerable with others and the world around you. You’ll work on developing meaningful, reciprocal relationships. This step comes later in the healing process because first, you must mend the relationship you have with yourself.
Level 6: Recognizing life’s priorities: emotional and spiritual growth, self-responsibility. (Acceptance statements 8 and 13) You’ll continue to work on the lifelong relationship that you have with yourself through emotional and spiritual growth. You’ll take ownership of your actions and choose a happy and healthy lifestyle.
To make the WFS program effective for you, you must practice it consciously each day. This can be easy with the help of other supportive sisters. There are different meetings that you can choose from to fit your schedule and needs. WFS embraces all expressions of female identity and welcomes those in the LGBTQ+ community.
“Face-to-face” groups are available in the United States and Canada. These meetings are just for women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Meetings occur once per week and usually last 60-90 minutes. Ideally, only 6-10 women attend per group.
During in-person meetings, you’ll face each other in a circle in an open discussion format. At the beginning of the meeting, the 13 Acceptance Statements and the mission statement are read out loud. Each woman introduces herself by saying, “my name is ____ and I am a competent woman.” You’ll then share a positive action or feeling that relates to one of the 13 affirmations. You’ll go over different topics, share stories, and learn together throughout those 60-90 minutes.
At the end of the meeting, you’ll stand with joined hands and say the WFS Motto: “We are capable and competent, caring and compassionate, always willing to help another, bonded together in overcoming our addictions.”
If this resonates with you, you can find a face-to-face group near you.
WFS Online is an open forum for women overcoming their addiction. This is a 24/7 message board where women can share and seek support for their recovery. There are online chat meetings that happen 1-2 times daily. And these meetings are free.
If this style of online support resonates with your recovery journey, join the online forum today.
Jean Kirkpatrick set out on a mission to help women all across the country recover differently than what society has told them they should do. The Women for Sobriety program has helped thousands of women find their place in the recovery community. Healing with other women will not only help you on your lifetime sobriety journey, but you’ll also form incredible relationships along the way. Discover how women’s only treatment can help you feel at home.
Brady, K. T., & Lydiard, J. B. (2021). Women and addiction. In N. el-Guebaly, G. Carrà, M. Galanter, & A. M. Baldacchino (Eds.), Textbook of Addiction Treatment: International Perspectives (pp. 1395–1405). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-36391-8_98
Women for sobriety. (n.d.). Women For Sobriety. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://womenforsobriety.org
New life program. (n.d.). Women For Sobriety. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://womenforsobriety.org/new-life-program/
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