Substance abuse can be defined simply as using a substance destructively. If you are using a substance in a way that causes harm to you, where its effect and influence on you is detrimental, then you are abusing it. The word abuse means to use improperly. When you are using something in a way that it is not intended for, when you are forcing it or directing it in a way that it creates harm to yourself or anyone else, you are abusing.

Substances which are addictive – like alcohol, stimulants, and sedatives – are easily abused. They activate the “reward and reinforcement system” of your body, thereby releasing neurochemicals that generate the experience of pleasure. The pleasure induced by addictive substances is both physical and psychological. Pleasures activated may include feelings of relaxation, euphoria, improved outlook on life, energy boosts, and even feelings of belonging and connection to others.

If there is preexisting pain, such as isolation, spiritual disconnection, sadness, or anger, the pleasure effects may simply neutralize or numb these aches. Nature gave us the reward and reinforcement system to let us know when we are on the right track – when what we are doing, how we are doing it, and who we are doing it with are coherent with our deeper soul purpose. Nature uses healthy pleasure to give us reinforcement when we are working together with the flow of vitality within.

Pain normally lets us know when we are out of alignment in some way, when we are trying to live life by paddling upstream against the currents of love, connection, peace, and compassion. Pain is a warning system saying, “No, not this way, this isn’t right for you”. The reward and reinforcement system, unfortunately or fortunately, is hackable. Substances hack into that system and give a woman those same feelings of pleasure and pain relief for a limited period of time, even though she is not in alignment with her inner nature and higher soul purpose.

Substance abuse attempts to cheat the system – to get the relief of feeling better without making the changes to lifestyle, personality, attitudes and behaviors that would be required to access and sustain those feelings naturally. Substance abuse comes with a nasty list of problems. Chemicals are destructive to the body, especially when used in excess. All addictive substances have detrimental effects on the physical body – some are more toxic than others, but all of them leave a sometimes irreversible chemical trace.

So even though the reward and reinforcement system is being activated, the body is actually falling into a state of disrepair and ill health. A second problem is that the hack stops working. This is known as tolerance – as the brain and body become adapted to the presence of the substance, your neurology attempts to rebalance by changing the way it responds to the substance, to bring you back to neutral. This means two things – one is that when the substance is there, it gradually shifts from creating a spike of pleasure to just stabilizing you at “normal”.

Even at high doses, you more or less feel how you did before you started using the substance, with no greater sum pleasure that you used to have. The more sinister consequence of using chemicals is that when the substance your neurology has adapted to is not there for whatever reason, you are now in a pleasure deficit. In other words, just the lack of the substance means you are in pain – physical, psychological, spiritual pain – and you will not get back to feeling normal, let alone high, without ever increasing doses of the substance your body has come to rely on.

The more a woman turns to the substance, ingesting it with the hope that it will create feelings of pleasure, the more she deepens into a hole of pain, coming to the point where the amount of a substance she would need to feel pain relief is so toxic to her that she overdoses herself. Due to this problem of tolerance, and an escalation in the amount needed, people abusing substances typically end up changing their lifestyles, including who they hang out with and their spending patterns, around trying to get greater and greater amounts of the substance into their body.

This takes more and more time, and takes her more and more outside the bounds of society’s idea of what’s normal or acceptable behavior. She may engage in illegal or illicit activities, hurt friends and loved ones, ignore job responsibilities, to do whatever is necessary to get the substance in the amount and frequency that is now needed just not to be in pain and withdrawal. Around the time that lifestyle consequences show up, such as losing jobs and friends, people often wonder why this pattern is not visible to the person who has lost her personal freedom to the substance.

One reason is that addiction gradually overrides what’s called the executive function of the brain, which is the part that used to be able to curb, overrule and mediate the instincts. Pleasure and pain are the domain of instinct, so as the appetite for pleasure and obsession with avoiding pain grows larger, the executive part is eclipsed. The mind, which may have once been relatively rational, balanced and humane, is now in the control of the addiction and will be filled with thoughts that justify the addiction.

Thoughts that deny the severity of the problem and minimize its consequences; thoughts that dismiss the growing anxiety and block awareness of the truth of the parasite growing inside. The mind becomes no longer a place to hear one’s own thoughts, but a place to hear the voice of the addiction. The voice of the addiction is manipulative, deceptive, and self-serving. Such a person is literally not herself anymore, but is instead a collection of uncontrollable impulses and self-serving thoughts (more accurately, thoughts that serve the continued existence of the addiction).

It is very important to understand that addiction is not a choice, and that substances that hack into the reward system are highly addictive and should be used with caution by anyone because of this very risk. For women whose destiny involves trudging the whole dark circuit of addiction, it is key to understand that this condition is not her fault per se. She comes by it unintentionally through ignorance, emotional pain and entrapment into something she never meant to experience.

Even though blame is not appropriate, but rather compassionate acceptance should be applied, the addicted woman is still the only one who can activate the cure. The cure is multifaceted, but essentially involves evicting the spirit of addiction that has gained traction and lived inside a woman. There are many ways in to doing this, and all start with the choice to do so. There is nothing more required, in essence, that the genuine, sincere and deep desire to be free, and to be willing to do absolutely anything to be rid of it.

Typically, this means being willing to completely change personality, lifestyle, attitude, will, and concede all territory that the addiction has taken. To give up any hope of control, and to walk away forever. A woman with a substance addiction comes to see that she can no longer rely on her own thoughts (since they are the addict’s) nor her impulses and instincts (since those are the addict’s too). And thus, she must seek help in something that is outside and above the addiction, an authority that exists in a domain that addiction can’t touch – substance abuse treatment programs.

There is such a healing force that, when called upon, absolutely can lift the curse of addiction and collapse the home it built inside you. However, the healing loving force must be sincerely and genuinely called on for help and cannot be tricked or used for personal gain. It cannot be controlled, or used as a means to an end, to alleviate consequences of addiction without changing the personality. The loving force requires a lot: absolute surrender. It requires spiritual transformation. Not just growth, but metamorphosis.

There are many ways to embody readiness to surrender oneself to the healing force. One strong act of willingness and readiness is to enter rehab, and to surrender personal plans, ideas, strategies and the negative ego’s whole package of preferences and demands to the healing structure and the center’s substance abuse treatment programs for women. Another, often very complementary way to act on readiness is to attend 12 Step meetings with a very high frequency (daily is recommended in early recovery), and to do the work of the 12 Steps.

For women who struggle with past toxic relationships and/or any mental health related condition,  It’s imperative that substance abuse treatment programs for women are also trauma-informed, foundated and fully equipped. Breaking free from substance abuse and addiction is more of a process than an event, and it is dynamic and fluid, changeable and unknown. It is both highly personal and comfortingly universal – others who have recovered can help those who decide to recover even though their paths are unique.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Women in San Diego

At Villa Kali Ma, our substance abuse treatment programs for women are built on a “whole person, whole life” philosophy. Meaning, we treat the whole person, not just the addiction or symptoms. From physical, nutritional and educational, to emotional, cognitive and spiritual, our personalized treatment plans are designed to best maximize your chances of transforming, healing, and recovering from addiction. If you’re ready to seek help, to release the shame, guilt, fear and loss of power that has been haunting you through an attachment to substances, our substance abuse treatment programs for women welcome you with open arms.

We will fight for you, help you through the transition, coach you the ways of healing and recovery, and support you to connect to your own powerfully inner spiritual forces and allies. We will model the paths of recovery, connect you with the community, and hold you with unconditional, positive regard. We will see you – not just for who you were and who you are right now, but for who you are becoming – your greatest and most heroic probability and potential. At the same time, we will hold compassion, gentleness and acceptance for the parts within that are vulnerable, weak, and totally unheroic. We will hold your shadows with the love and regard that honors their true essence and form, what they can eventually become when loved enough. Join Villa Kali Ma’s substance abuse treatment programs for women in San Diego today!

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

Are you a woman struggling with addiction? 

You’re not alone, and you don’t have to go it alone. Here at Villa Kali Ma we have a unique, holistic substance abuse treatment program designed especially for women.

At Villa Kali Ma, we believe that everyone deserves the chance to restore themselves to a life that’s free from the miseries of addiction. If you’re ready to make a change, consider our program!

Our staff is experts as well as first-hand experience in the field of substance abuse recovery. Many of us know the addiction experience from the inside out, in addition to having specialized professionally in the art and science of what really works for long-lasting recovery. 

Contact us today if you’re ready to recover your freedom and well-being. Our admissions team is standing by to answer your questions and help you take your first steps. 

Contact Villa Kali Ma at (760) 814-8214 to begin your journey back to wellness.

What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse is best described as a pattern of using a mind-altering substance in such a way that it results in problems functioning in everyday life. 

Drugs, alcohol, and addictive behaviors can rapidly digress from being enjoyable or helpful experiences and instead become sources of negative effects and life consequences.

Substance abuse among women is widespread and continues to be a growing problem, especially in what are known to be especially vulnerable populations, such as those with trauma and people in high-stress environments.

Substance abuse has a profound negative impact on every aspect of your life, including your relationships with family and friends, job performance, physical health, mental health, and general well-being. 

That’s why it’s important to receive professional help early on if possible, as with many disease patterns, it’s easier to treat the earlier you are able to address it. Even if you’re approaching recovery from a later stage in the addiction cycle, however, it is important to know it’s never too late to reclaim your life. 

Signs and symptoms of substance abuse

No woman is the same, so substance abuse patterns can vary person to person. Nevertheless there are general ways to identify the presence of a substance abuse problem. Following are several common signs and symptoms of substance abuse:

  • Big changes in your mood and behavior: Drugs, alcohol, and addictive behaviors

temporarily change what is going on in the brain and body, giving you more extreme highs and lows. This is what makes it so enjoyable for people to engage in substances at first, as a person is able to get herself into a very pleasurable state of body and being, hacking into the body’s bank of good feeling hormones and neurotransmitters. 

In the long term, however, chemically-induced mood alterations are not healthy for you and can cause serious damage to your body and brain, leaving you very irritable, depressed, and anxious in a more permanent way (until you are able to repair yourself in recovery). Generally speaking, substances break the brain and body systems,  and in some cases you can end up with irreversible brain damage.

  • Craving: When you start to crave something, it’s a signal that your body has become physically dependent on what you are abusing. This is the first stage of addiction and a good sign you are developing or already have a chemical dependency.
  • Using despite negative consequences: Not being able to stop using even when you have good reasons to is what distinguishes casual users from addicts. Good reasons to stop include thing like bad grades or problems at work, legal consequences such as a DUI, losing friends or having relationship troubles that are related to your substance use.

This is a sign that your willpower is being eroded, and you are losing the ability to choose and to have control over your own life. If you suspect you are passing the point of being able to say no to your drug of choice even though you know it’s bad for you, it’s important to get help now.

  • Withdrawal symptoms: If you are chemically dependent on something, then your body will become accustomed to having that substance regularly and will go into pain and discomfort when the substance is no longer available at the dose and regularity the body is used to.

Therefore, when you abstain from the substance after your body is expecting it to be available, withdrawals occur. 

The severity of withdrawals depends on what drug you are addicted to and what the mechanism of that drug in the body is. Being at the point where you are using a substance mainly to fend off withdrawal symptoms – having a drink to stop the shakes, for example – is a clear sign of addiction. 

  • Inability to fulfill responsibilities: Losing interest in what you do day to day and feeling unable to keep up with what you need to do is a major sign that there’s a problem with your substance use. This may lead to dropping out of school, quitting work or getting suspended, losing custody of children, and legal issues.

Causes of substance abuse

Causes of substance abuse are complex, and will vary from woman to woman. However, there are a few very common reasons that people turn to substance abuse. Some of the reasons include the following:

  • Peer pressure: When you are surrounded by people who are engaging in substance abuse, it can be tempting to join them because of what they are doing or what they have experienced. This can have a lasting impact on what you do even after your peers stop using.
  • Family history: Certain mental health conditions and substance abuse problems tend to run in families. This means you’re at a higher risk of what your parents or relatives struggled with if they had the same issues.
  • Self-medication: Substance abuse is frequently used as a form of self-medication for what is going on in your life. This includes everything from stress, depression, loneliness, grief, anxiety, and a general lack of control.

Treating substance abuse disorders

There are a variety of approaches to treating substance abuse disorders used today. 

Generally, it is recognized that in order to recover, people need psychological help from professional therapists as well as various forms of life skills training and education, to learn how to live life as a sober person. 

At Villa Kali Ma we offer the clinical and psychotherapeutic pieces, the life skills training, and several other forms of support that include insights and methodologies from ancient healing traditions like yoga, meditation, breath work, shamanism, and creative arts therapies. 

Additionally, it is crucial to connect with a community of people in recovery, who understand both the experience of addiction and the experience of recovering. This network of nonjudgmental people, fellows and friends on the journey to wellness, are important long after you leave treatment.  

We believe in substance abuse treatment designed especially for women, as gender-specific treatment programs have been demonstrated to have better results. Women who join substance abuse treatment programs designed for women experience an increased level of safety and connectedness among participants. 

Substance abuse treatment at Villa Kali Ma

At Villa Kali Ma, you will experience a substance abuse treatment program created specifically for you. We understand each woman is unique and will have different needs throughout her journey. We customize the program to best serve each person. 

You’re not alone, no matter how much it may feel that way now. We understand how very difficult it can seem to imagine overcoming substance abuse, but people do it every day of the year and we can help you do it too. 

Villa Kali Ma believes every woman deserves a life free of addiction, which is why we provide comprehensive treatment and therapy for women who are ready to do just that.  Our program is created by professionals with expertise in substance abuse and what it is that best helps women especially to heal.

If you’re ready to reclaim your life and start healing your mind, body, and spirit, we’re here to help! 

Take the first step today and give us a call. We have a dedicated team who can talk to you about how Villa Kali Ma could help you along your journey toward a happier, healthier life.

I don't believe it to be an exaggeration to say that Villa Kali Ma saved my life.
I couldn't have asked for a better environment to heal and redirect onto a path towards true living.


This place completely changed my life. I needed a drastic change from the typical recovery environment in order to stay sober long-term. I can honestly say that I love who I am today and I am forever grateful for Villa Kali Ma!


I am so grateful I found Villa Kali Ma, it has truly changed my life. Kay is awesome and the entire team who works there is absolutely amazing. If you need treatment, I highly recommend making this the start to your recovery.


Villa Kali Ma is an in-network provider with Anthem BCBS, Multiplan, First Health, Healthnet, and currently accepts most
PPO plans with out-of-network benefits. Call (760) 814-8214 for information on cost and payment options.