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Women and Addiction: Risk Factors and Effects

Addiction is a complex and devastating issue that affects individuals of all genders, but women face unique risk factors and consequences when it comes to substance abuse. There are specific challenges faced by women and addiction, including societal expectations, biological differences, and trauma histories. By understanding these factors, it can help women battling addiction seek treatment.

Women and Addiction: Statistics

According to SAMHSA and the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, addiction in women statistics included:

  • 7.4 million women were addicted to drugs.
  • 12.2 million women had alcohol use disorder.
  • 2.5 million women had polysubstance use disorders.
  • 9.1 million women had a serious mental health disorder.
  • 41 million women had co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders. 

Risk Factors for Women and Addiction

The risk factors for women developing addiction vary based on individual circumstances. However, some common factors increase the likelihood of substance abuse. For starters, there are biological differences, such as hormonal fluctuations and metabolism. Next, social pressures related to gender roles or body image standards can be a factor.

Additionally, exposure to trauma or violence can lead to turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with unwanted feelings. Then, self-medicating mental health conditions like depression or anxiety could also contribute to addiction. Furthermore, family history of substance abuse, genetics, and environmental influences can increase the risk of addiction among women. 

How Addiction Impacts Women

Addiction can have profound and unique impacts on women’s physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and overall quality of life. Women who struggle with addiction may face an increased risk of developing certain health issues such as cardiovascular problems, liver disease, reproductive disorders, and other medical complications. Substance abuse can also exacerbate existing mental health conditions or lead to the development of new ones.

In terms of relationships, addiction can strain familial ties, intimate partnerships, friendships, and professional connections. Additionally, addiction can impact women’s financial stability and independence due to job loss or difficulty maintaining employment while battling substance abuse.

Motherhood and Postpartum Depression

After giving birth, a mood disorder some women experience is postpartum depression. It is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. Some women turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and treat their symptoms. 

While they can experience temporary relief, it is only short-lived. Continued drinking and drug use results in increased tolerance. As a result, higher doses are needed to achieve the desired effect. Eventually, this endless cycle leads to dependence and addiction. 

Gender Expectations

Gender expectations imposed by society can contribute to women and addiction addiction in several ways. Women are often expected to fulfill multiple roles and juggle various responsibilities, leading to high levels of stress and pressure. As a result, some women may turn to substances as a way to cope with the demands placed on them.

Expectations around social interactions and relationships for women often involve alcohol or drugs. Substance use is done as a means of bonding and fitting in with others.

Women who have experienced trauma such as abuse, violence, or sexual assault may develop substance use disorders. They turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to numb the pain and distress associated with their experiences.

Societal standards dictating ideal body shapes and sizes can contribute to body dissatisfaction among women. This can lead some women to turn to substances to deal with their unwanted feelings. Some women also use substances to control their eating to attempt to get the desired body shape. These practices can and do lead to eventually addiction. 

Common Substances That Women Abuse

Women abuse a variety of substances, depending on factors such as personal preferences, availability, and societal influences. Some common substances that women abuse include:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription drugs
  • Opioids
  • Stimulants
  • Marijuana

Women and Alcoholism

Women are more susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol due to biological differences. These can include lower body weight, different enzyme levels affecting metabolism, and hormonal fluctuations. Societal pressures and gender norms also contribute to increased risk of alcohol abuse in women. 

Women with alcohol use disorder are at higher risk for developing liver disease, cardiovascular problems, and neurological impairments. They also face an elevated risk of experiencing co-occurring mental health conditions alongside their addiction.

Addiction in Lesbian and Bisexual Women

Research indicates that lesbian and bisexual women experience higher rates of substance abuse and addiction compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Several factors may contribute to this increased risk, including:

  • Stress-related to discrimination
  • Social isolation
  • Trauma and violence
  • Internalized negative beliefs about sexual orientation

Some lesbian and bisexual women also use substances from the social influences within LGBTQ+ communities. Drinking and substance use within these communities are often more normalized.

Women and Detox 

Gender-specific detox programs cater specifically to the unique needs and experiences of women struggling with substance abuse. These programs provide a safe and supportive environment. Women can address their addiction issues with a focus on gender-related factors that may contribute to their substance use.

By addressing specific needs in a gender-specific detox setting, women are more likely to feel comfortable seeking help. This allows them to receive the individualized treatment necessary for successful recovery from addiction.

Start Gender-Specific Detox for Women in Columbus, OH Today

At Ohio Addiction Recovery Center, we understand the complex nature of women and addiction. Our tailored programs are designed to address the specific challenges and circumstances that influence substance use in women. From therapy that deals with trauma and co-occurring disorders to a supportive community that fosters strength and resilience, we are committed to providing a compassionate and comprehensive treatment environment.

Whether you’re seeking help for yourself or a loved one, Ohio Addiction Recovery Center is dedicated to empowering women to overcome addiction and reclaim their lives.

Contact us today to start your healing and recovery journey to a new substance-free life.

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