The Cost of Ceaseless Work on Women: How Behavioral Health Providers Can Support Women in Recovery this Women's History Month

March is women’s history month. The month is dedicated to honoring women’s contributions to culture, society, and history in America. Women’s history month has been observed annually since March 1980 when it was first proclaimed by Jimmy Carter. Initially only one week was dedicated, it was expanded to a month in 1987 ( Editors, 2022). This year’s theme, designated by the National Women’s History Alliance, is a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during the ongoing pandemic. Further, it is a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.

As we look at this year’s theme, it’s important to note the cost of ceaseless work. In the book, Burnout by Emily and Amalia Nagoski, the author’s discuss how women are trapped in what’s called “human giver syndrome”. Human giver syndrome is when women give everything to other people, and don’t have any space to simply BE, or are judged for taking care of themselves. They describe how human givers are not supposed to need anything, or inconvenience people with their feelings, which often results in emotional exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion is the fatigue that comes from caring too much for too long, and has a negative impact on health, relationships, and work (Nagoski, E., & Nagoski, A., 2020).

Women have a higher rate of burnout: 42% of women and 35% of men in Corporate America have reported feeling burned out in the last few months (Burns et al., 2021). One in three women have reported contemplating leaving their career (up from one in four in the last year). The rates of burnout have continued to increase over the last few years. In addition, two-thirds of all unpaid caregivers are women, and they tend to report higher rates of depression and anxiety, and lower levels of subjective well-being, life satisfaction and physical health when compared to men (Family Caregiver Alliance., n.d.).

Increased stress often leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms – such as alcohol and drug use. Over the last few years, women have closed the gender gap in alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and alcohol use disorder with a 1-1 ratio (Pattani, A., 2021). Research shows that women experience health consequences from alcohol (i.e., liver disease, heart, disease, and cancer) more quickly than men (Pattani, A., 2021). In addition, detection of substance use disorders among women is under-diagnosed and they are often less likely to get the help that they need.

This year, The First Women’s Global Recovery Event will be held on March 8. The purpose of this event is to shine a light on the important topic of women and recovery through bring awareness to issues specific to women’s addiction and mental health recovery and providing opportunity for discussion on women’s recovery topics.

The Global Women’s Recovery Roundtable is the first convening of women in recovery and organizations across the globe that celebrate and support women’s recovery from addiction, mental health and trauma.This three-hour virtual event will host speakers across the world to share about issues related to women’s recovery. Representatives from organizations like International Justice Mission, She Recovers, Recovery Africa, Faces and Voices of Recovery US and UK, and others will share in the celebration. Check out the  featured speakers for this important event.

Additionally, a final portion of the event will include facilitated breakout discussions for attendees to share the issues that are important to you!

Register for the FREE virtual event.

Also, celebrated in the month of March is International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 (and originally started March 8, 1911) and is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women. Many countries around the world celebrate with demonstrations, educational initiatives, as well as customs like gifting women with gifts and flowers.

The United Nations has sponsored this important day since 1975 citing: “To recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality, and development of women; and to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security”. This year’s theme is dedicated to imagining a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrate.

Addressing the health concerns related to human giver syndrome are paramount when we look at women being equitable within society. A gender equal world also requires that we address barriers to career satisfaction, work-life integration, and women’s health (both physical and mental).

Your Turn: In what ways have you seen gender influence burnout?

Additional resources and related articles may be found on the CASAT OnDemand Resources & Downloads page.

TIP 51: Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women –

This course from CASAT Learning: Supporting Women in Recovery: A Trauma -Informed Approach to Substance Use Treatment:

This old post from CASAT OnDemand: Recognizing and Supporting the Unique Needs of Women in Treatment and Recovery: What Behavioral Health Providers Can Do

This article was developed by Heather Haslem, M.S. Feel free to use, link to, or distribute this information. A link to our site and attribution would be much appreciated.


Burns, T., Huang, J., Krivkovich, A., Rambachan, I., Trkulja, T., & Yee, L. (2021, October 22). Women do more to fight burnout – and it’s burning them out. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from burnout-and-its-burning-them-out

Family Caregiver Alliance. (n.d.). Caregiver Health. Caregiver Health – Family Caregiver Alliance. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from Editors. (2022). Women’s History Month 2022. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from

Nagoski, E., & Nagoski, A. (2020). Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. Ballantine Books.

Pattani, A. (2021). Women now drink as much as men – not so much for pleasure, but to Cope. NPR. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from

Schneider, C. M., & Aubrey, A. (2020). Americans Are Drinking More During the Pandemic. Here’s How to Cut Back. NPR. Retrieved March 4, 2022, from

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