What Is Moral Injury & How It Impacts Women’s Core Beliefs

by | Aug 11, 2022

Addiction can be a challenging and isolating struggle, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. If you are seeking addiction treatment in Louisville, Kentucky, there is hope.

Moral injury is one of those phrases that a lot of people have heard in relation to mental health and addiction. Most people understand very little about what this means.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at moral injury, and in particular, the impacts on women’s core beliefs.

What is moral injury?

In difficult circumstances, many people are often forced to witness traumatic events. Often these traumatic events will be diametrically opposed to the moral beliefs that those witnesses hold dear. For example, someone may see a woman being deliberately hurt but not be able to help. When this happens, they may experience a moral injury because they have a strong belief that protecting women is an important thing for them, and society as a whole, to do.

Basically, moral injury is a term used to refer to distressing incidents and the traumatic impact they can have on the mental health and actions of those people who are forced to witness them. Individuals can experience a moral injury when a situation arises that causes them to either be witness to or even carry out, actions that are transgressive of their core beliefs and values.

Many people have the wrong impression that moral injury is just another way of describing post-traumatic stress disorder, and although they do share some commonalities, they are distinct diagnoses in their own right.

Many people also believe that moral injury is only something that veterans who have been engaged in combat suffer from, but again that is not accurate, and anyone who witnesses or is forced to behave in ways that are opposed to their deeply held beliefs can suffer from moral injury.

Moral injury can show up almost immediately after a traumatic incident, or it can take much longer to present itself – sometimes even years. 

Moral injury does not always present itself immediately. Some people will deeply question themselves and their beliefs days after a traumatic event. For others, these types of troubling questions and thoughts may not surface for years.

What are some examples of moral injury?

If you are wondering what kinds of events and traumas can cause moral injury, take a look at the examples below:

  • The use of deadly force in a military situation
  • Freezing when a traumatic event, such as a murder, unfolds in front of you and being unable to intervene
  • Being forced to make life-or-death decisions
  • Issuing orders that cause the death or serious injury of another person

As you can see, the kinds of situations that can cause moral injury are very serious indeed and are more likely to be experienced in a medical or military context, but they can happen to anyone at any time.

How it impacts women’s core beliefs

Now you know a bit more about what moral injury is, you might be wondering how it impacts women’s core beliefs, so let’s take a look at that in more detail now.

As humans, we all have core beliefs about the world and what it should be like. We all have our own deep-seated beliefs, values, and ideals. Moral injury can have a significant impact on these core beliefs, especially when the moral injury is experienced by a woman. Here are just some of the ways that can be the case.

Moral Dilemmas

Moral injuries can cause many women to experience moral dilemmas whereby they are forced to confront what they have just seen or done and the ways in which it conflicts with their core beliefs and ideals. 

This is often one of the most common impacts of a moral injury, and one of the first effects to be felt. It is also one of the first steps that can lead women to addiction as they try and fail to come to terms with the trauma they have experienced and look for ways to block it out or make it feel better in some way.

Poor self-esteem

Another negative consequence of moral injury, which is very common in women, is a lack of self-esteem. When a woman can no longer be sure of herself or where she stands morally, she might turn to drugs and alcohol to try and get through. This can lead her to think she is worthless or that there is no help to be found out there, and this can lead to serious self-esteem issues. The good news is that our therapists can work with such women to show them that they are valued human beings even if they have been through the trauma of moral injury and drug addiction.


Unfortunately, many women who suffer a moral injury end up turning to drugs and/or alcohol to help them get through their experiences. Of course, this is a highly destructive course of action to take, and one which only serves to make matters worse in the long term.

Many women turn to drugs to block out the experience so they can get some respite from turning it over and over in their minds. Before they know it, they have developed an addiction, and of course, once the addiction is in full swing, they may need to engage in further transgressive behaviors which go against their core beliefs and values, which tend to only make life worse.

Treating moral injury

The good news is there is hope for women who have suffered a moral injury and fallen into addiction as a result of their experiences. We now know more than ever before about moral injury and how it affects women. This has enabled us to develop treatments that focus on the whole history and experience of the women, instead of just the addiction.

We provide physical and mental support as well as addiction services and moral support for everyone who comes to us with substance misuse issues following a moral injury.

Impact Outpatient Program

Impact Outpatient Program is a leading outpatient drug and alcohol treatment center that offers patients a way out of drug addiction. We focus on profiting from a path to sustainable and long-lasting recovery using the latest therapeutic modalities to help anyone who is struggling with moral injury and addiction, amongst other substance abuse issues, that will give addicts a new lease of life.

As a drug and alcohol outpatient facility, we offer a wide range of important and effective services to help you or your loved one get their life back on track with lasting sobriety and all of the help and support they need to make that happen.

Intensive outpatient program

Our intensive outpatient program is there to help anyone who suffers from severe drug and alcohol addictions. If you or your loved one is committed to getting sober and changing their lives for the better, then we are here to help.

Wondering whether an intensive outpatient program is for you? If you are dealing with substance abuse issues and do not know where to turn, our program of intensive therapy and support will help to get you off the drugs and furnish you with all of the tools you need to stay sober.

Although this is an outpatient program, it is every bit as intensive as a residential program, but you will be able to stay at home with your loved ones. If you have a helpful and supportive family unit, then this could be the best option for you to get into recovery while still staying with the people you love and maintaining some semblance of a normal life.

Our therapists will work with you to get to the route of your moral injury and how it has affected your behaviors so that you can finally overcome them and start using healthier coping techniques to live with the trauma you have undoubtedly experienced.

Outpatient Program

Our outpatient program is ideal for individuals who have been through a residential or intensive outpatient program, but who may be at risk of relapsing. We can already help you to get back on track if you have already relapsed and you could use some additional support to work through your issues at this time. We are totally non-judgemental and we are here to help.

Telehealth Services

We also now offer a telehealth service for patients who need some help with their addictions, but who may not be able to travel to our outpatient facilities. This may be a new way of helping women with moral injury and addiction, but we take it just as seriously as all our other services, and if you are finding it difficult to get the help and support you need in person where you are, this could be an excellent alternative for you to explore.

If you would like to know more about the Impact Outpatient Program and how you can turn your life around following moral injury and addiction, do not hesitate to talk to our dedicated team today. We are always on hand to offer non-judgemental help and support to anyone who needs it.

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