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.