Owning Her Voice

Women could greatly benefit from support for the aspects of their life that are affected by, but not directly linked to, their substance use problems. Looking at the big picture is more beneficial for women who want to try recovery.

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To make recovery more accessible and inclusive - the number one goal is to reduce stigma.

Joyce Bracey is the Executive Director of CADA Prevention & Recovery Center. She’s worked in the recovery space for 15 years and got her start as a counselor at a residential addiction treatment center for women. Later, she was the Executive Director of a nonprofit international festival.

Joyce says that her growth as a woman and a leader has been “a journey to fully own my voice. I’ve had to teach myself to stop qualifying my answers with all sorts of language that makes me smaller… “I think that… but that’s just my opinion… I’m not sure, though. I realized that people were trusting me to be their leader in various situations at work and in other parts of my life. This meant that I had to be that leader and be secure in it.”

Joyce BraceyJoyce has learned that being a leader means trusting herself and getting comfortable with the fact that other people look to her for answers. She said that figuring all this out was complicated by the misogyny that women face in the world, but the support of great mentors and role models (both men and women) helped her along the way. In her work at CADA, she’s supported by amazing female leaders who come through, even in a crunch.

“They do amazing work and they smile through it,” Joyce said. “I know that CADA’s success is because of these women and the way we all function as a team. I’m so honored to work with them. I’m proud that I have some part in creating a work environment that inspires people to pull together like that… that inspires them to give their best.”

Joyce’s work supports other women and helps break down the barriers they face.

To make recovery more accessible and inclusive, she says, the number one goal is to reduce stigma. “Women internalize social norms in ways that make getting treatment especially challenging,” she said. “Women are expected to hold their families together, to help their parents and their children and their partners keep it all going. They are often solely responsible for childcare. Many women are single mothers, doing it all alone. This all combined with the stigma surrounding the disease of addiction makes getting treatment all the more difficult.”

Instead, women could greatly benefit from support for the aspects of their life that are affected by, but not directly linked to, their substance use problems. Addiction is often described as a “family disease” because addiction in one person creates a dysfunctional system that disrupts the healthy emotional development and functioning of all the members of the family. Looking at the big picture is more beneficial for women who want to try recovery.

Joyce said, “When someone seeks treatment for addiction, childcare responsibilities often keep them out of treatment, particularly women, and we need to fix that. We need to care for the needs and treat the whole family, not just the addicted person.”

The work is worth it. Joyce says her time with CADA has been the biggest challenge and greatest joy of her career.

“Call it a calling,” she says. “I do this work because I have to help people- to try and make a difference and to alleviate human suffering in some small way. It’s just what I have to do.”

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