Anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol if they indulge too often or too heavily.  But, addiction affects females differently than it does males.  If you’re wondering why this happens, here are some things you may find surprising.

Why Addiction Affects Females Differently Than It Does Men

When it comes to the reasons for drug use, men and women share some things in common.  However, women seem to have more trouble overcoming addiction than men.

Women use drugs for weight loss, to fight exhaustion, or to manage depression or anxiety.  After prolonged use, they find that they are no longer in control of anything.

Did you know that 2.5 million adult women in the US use illicit drugs each year?

Here are some other things about women and addiction you may not know:

Binge drinking among women is on the rise.

Binge drinking for women is defined as having 4 drinks or more within a two-hour period.  Between 2006 and 2018, binge drinking rates doubled among childless women aged 30-44.

Women can become addicted more easily than men.

Since women tend to have more body fat than men, they absorb more alcohol or drugs.  This effect can prolong the time the substance can damage the organs.  A woman’s brain and cardiovascular system can be significantly affected.

Substance use puts women in challenging situations.

Studies show that women who have a substance use disorder (SUD) are more likely to be in abusive relationships.  These women are also exposed to unsafe situations where they are forced into having sex.  This can lead to unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and AIDS/HIV.

Women are more likely to suffer overdoses.

The risk of injury or death is higher for women even though more men than women die of drug overdoses.   This happens because a woman metabolizes substances faster than men.  Also, women are more likely to experience panic attacks, anxiety, or depression which can lead to suicide.  These are some of the main reasons why addiction affects females differently than men.

When women abuse drugs or alcohol while pregnant, the effects on the fetus can last a lifetime.

The number of women abusing addictive substances while pregnant is on the rise.  More than 5% of children in the US suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which causes lifelong disabilities such as cognitive impairment.  Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is also a result of substance use during pregnancy.  Furthermore, substance use during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage.

Women who are pregnant or who have children are less likely to get treatment for their SUD.

Studies show that women who have young children or are pregnant don’t seek treatment because of childcare issues.  They also fear that their children will end up in foster care.  However, federal law requires that:

Pregnant women receive priority admission into publicly funded substance use disorder treatment programs, allowing them to bypass waiting lists and gain immediate admission when a bed in a residential program is available. The primary treatment provider must secure prenatal care if a pregnant woman is not already receiving such care.

It’s also important to note that women who are using drugs while breastfeeding a child can put the child at increased risk for health problems.

Questions About Treatment and Rehabilitation?

(877) 704-7285     Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Is Treatment Available Specifically for Women?

Research has lead to a better understanding of how addiction affects females differently than men.  Therefore, many treatment facilities now offer gender-specific programs.  Experts agree that women respond more readily to women-only meetings during treatment.  They are more willing to talk openly among females than in mixed groups.

Additionally, some programs allow women to continue living at home if they have children and can’t arrange dependable childcare during treatment.

Get Individualized Treatment at New Beginnings

At New Beginnings, we understand the importance of treating clients as individuals.  For that reason, our program is flexible and can adapt to each client’s unique needs.  Contact us today to learn more.

Resources:
  • drugabuse.gov –  Substance Use in Women DrugFacts
  • govinfo.govTreatment Services for Pregnant Women
  • kff.org – Opioid Overdose Deaths by Gender