Women and Addiction

In addition to men, many women also face addiction issues. It can be even more of a struggle when there’s a family or children involved. If you’re going to help yourself or a loved one recover then it’s important to know and understand more about it and how it affects women differently than men. It’s time to break the stigma and focus on education and knowledge around the topic and encouraging one another to get treatment and help.

Women and Addiction and Overdose

While drug addiction is equally devastating for men and women, men and women tend to be drawn to different drugs and the responses may differ. However, women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder. Women may use drugs for different purposes as well such as to control weight, fight exhaustion, and cope with pain. Studies show that women may be more likely to go to the emergency room or die from overdose or adverse responses to particular substances.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • 19.5 million females (or 15.4 percent) ages 18 or older have used illicit drugs in the past year.
  • 8.4 million females (or 6.6 percent) ages 18 and older have misused prescription drugs in the past year.
  • The number of women with opioid use disorder at labor and delivery quadrupled from 1999-2014.

How it Affects Women

Addiction affects women differently based on biology. Women may be more susceptible to craving and relapse, which are vital phases of the addiction cycle. In fact, women who use drugs can have issues related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs.

Cultural Differences

Many different factors influence addiction and recovery, including sociological forces. Three primary socio-cultural influences are important to the question regarding “How do people get addicted?” These are culture, families, and social support. There are also differences based on culturally defined roles for men and women. Women tend to face different issues and may use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the pressures they feel that are put on them by society and their culture.

Stigma, Trauma & Motherhood

Lifetime rates of mood and anxiety disorders are significantly higher among women than men, with and without substance use disorders. There’s a role of co-occurring disorders going on with women and mood and anxiety disorders. Women may tend to hide that they have an issue or problem because of the stigma that exists around addiction. Women may have experienced certain types of traumas either violence or sexual misconduct and be using drugs and alcohol as a way to mask the pain. Motherhood is also challenging and women may not only feel overworked and exhausted but undervalued and develop an addiction over time as a way to cope with these stressors.

Getting Help

It’s important to recognize there’s a problem and figure out the next steps to recovery such as women’s rehab, women’s detox, and inpatient rehab. The upside to all of this is that there is help available for addiction and overdose. Contact Peaks Recovery Centers to get the conversation started and discover how we can help you get clean and sober for good.