Substance Abuse in Women
When it comes to substance abuse, women and men aren’t created totally equal. The biological differences of the sexes and the difference in the “roles” society have carved can create a unique set of challenges for women and substance abuse. If you are a woman who is struggling with substance abuse or know someone who is, keep reading to learn more about substance abuse in women and how specialized treatment can help.
Substance Abuse in Women: Statistics
- Surveys in the early 1980s estimated the male/female ratio of alcohol-use disorders as 5:1, in contrast to more recent surveys that report a ratio of approximately 3:1
- 19.5 million females (or 15.4 percent) ages 18 or older have used illicit drugs in the past year
- Women who use drugs may also experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels
- Brain changes in women who use drugs can be different from those in men
- Alcohol is the most commonly used substance by girls and women
- Women, more often than men, abuse prescription drugs
- Women may be more likely to go to the emergency room or die from an overdose or other effects of certain substances
- Women who are victims of domestic violence are at increased risk of substance use
- Divorce, loss of child custody, or the death of a partner or child can trigger women’s substance use or other mental health disorders
- Women who use certain substances may be more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety, or depression
- 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
Substance Abuse and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is extremely important that a woman is careful about what she puts in her body. Certain foods, drinks, and medications are not compatible with pregnancy as they can cause harm to the fetus. This also includes alcohol and drugs. However, for women who are addicted to substances while they are pregnant, quitting is easier said than done. It requires specialized treatment for their unique needs.
The dangers of using substances while pregnant include:
- Higher rate of miscarriage or stillbirth. The risk of stillbirth is 2 to 3 times greater in women who smoke tobacco or marijuana, take prescription pain relievers, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy.
- Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. When a woman is addicted to drugs while she is pregnant, and gives birth, the baby can experience withdrawal symptoms from the drugs much like a regular adult. Symptoms of NAS in a newborn can develop immediately or up to 14 days after birth. Some of these symptoms include:
- blotchy skin coloring
- excessive or high-pitched crying
- increased heart rate
- poor feeding
- rapid breathing
- sleep problems
- slow weight gain
- Birth defects. Some of the birth defects that can occur with pregnant women include low birth weight, premature birth, small head size, and a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Why Specialized Treatment Matters
Women face a unique set of challenges in life in general. Taking on the majority of the mental load when it comes to the family, wanting to lose weight, or wanting to fit in with friends or coworkers are just a few of the examples of reasons a woman may start using substances. Women also experience trauma at higher rates such as sexual abuse or domestic abuse, and the biological effects of being a woman — such as hormones, pregnancy, or post-partum depression — can cause severe depression, anxiety, other mental health issues that can lead to substance abuse.
The Journey Home is a women’s only facility run and staffed by women. We treat substance use disorder differently, with an individualized treatment program focusing on trauma and co-occurring disorders. If you are ready to get help by and with other like-minded women, please reach out to us.
About The Journey Home Women’s Recovery Center
The Journey Home was created over 20 years ago to be a safe, loving “village” for women to begin their journey to lasting recovery from addiction and the underlying causes that lead them to addiction. From the moment that you talk with us, you will know that you have made the best decision of your life.
We are a women’s only facility run and staffed by women. We treat substance use disorder differently, with an individualized treatment program focusing on trauma and co-occurring disorders. We also understand that you will be a big part of the discharge support planning and your involvement during treatment will be one of the building blocks to lasting recovery.
Once you get settled in with us, you will find that The Journey Home has created the perfect setting for your recovery. Surrounded by tranquil forests and acres of green grass along with a meditation pond, serenity and peace will begin to wash over you. The staff at The Journey Home will be devoted to you. They have one goal – and that is to make you feel safe, comfortable, and loved. They will be with you every step of the way on your journey. Our “Whole Woman” treatment approach will get to the underlying causes of trauma, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. Our unique 12-step drug and alcohol treatment program puts you on the path to recovery.
For more information, visit thejourneyhome.com