January 23, 2023 By Leah Malone

Dark Reality of Substance Abuse Among Women in America


Substance abuse among women in America is a problem that is often overlooked and overshadowed by other issues. Despite the fact that women account for nearly one-third of all substance abuse cases, the stigma surrounding addiction can lead to a lack of understanding and support for those struggling with addiction. This article will explore the dark reality of substance abuse among women in America, looking at the factors contributing to their addiction, their challenges in seeking treatment, and the potential consequences of ignoring this issue.

Drug Addiction In Women Is Different Than In Men

Men and women experience substance abuse a little differently.

The differences in substance abuse between women and men have been widely studied, and there are several key differences that can be observed. Generally, women tend to start using substances at a later age than men and are less likely to become dependent on them.

Women are also more likely to use substances to cope with underlying mental health issues and traumatic experiences. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to use substances to seek out excitement and adventure.

In addition, men are more likely to engage in riskier behavior when it comes to substance use, such as binge drinking and driving under the influence. Finally, men are also more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for substance-related offenses.

3 Facts About Addiction In Men And Women

Substance abuse is a serious problem that affects people of all genders. However, there are some key ways in which substance abuse differs between men and women.

  1. For most age groups, men have higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than do women. However, women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder. In addition, women may be more susceptible to craving and relapse, which are key phases of the addiction cycle.
  2. There are more men than women in treatment for substance use disorders. However, women are more likely to seek treatment for dependence on sedatives such as anti-anxiety and sleep medications. In addition, although men have historically been more likely to seek treatment for heroin use, the rate of women seeking treatment has increased in recent decades.
  3. The harrowing impact of domestic violence can ignite a cycle of addiction in women, with the harrowing statistics showing that those who have been victims of abuse are fifteen times more likely to suffer from depression and alcoholism.

Substance Abuse Patterns In Women

Recent studies have shown that 19.5 million females (or 15.4 percent) aged 18 or older have used illicit drugs in the past year.

It is often observed that women utilize substances in an alternate manner compared to men, such as consuming lower quantities of specific drugs for a shorter duration of time before succumbing to addiction. Women are shockingly more likely to suffer the drastic consequences of overdose and other substance-related effects, such as an emergency room visit or even death.

Risk factors associated with drug abuse in women include family history of substance use, favorable parental attitudes towards the behavior, poor parental monitoring, parental substance use, family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity, association with delinquent or substance-using peers, lack of school connectedness, and victims of domestic violence. Furthermore, women may look to stimulant drugs as a means to lose weight which can quickly spiral out of control.

The four most commonly abused drugs among women are alcohol, stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine, Adderall), marijuana (cannabis), and opioids. Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States, particularly among the female population. Women are also equally as likely to abuse stimulants as men however, their abuse tends to become more regular over time. Marijuana impairs spatial memory in women more than it does in men, and estimates suggest that about 5 percent of pregnant women use one or more addictive substances.

It is clear that understanding the types of substances most commonly abused by women is essential to informing drug treatment initiatives. By recognizing the risk factors associated with drug abuse in women, we are better equipped to help prevent addiction and provide support for those affected.

Women Who Use Drugs During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Consuming drugs, alcohol, and tobacco during pregnancy can be detrimental to both the expectant mother and her unborn child. The harmful toxins in these substances travel through the placenta and umbilical cord, wreaking havoc on the baby’s physical and cognitive development.

The use of opioids during pregnancy has been linked to dire consequences for expecting mothers and their unborn babies, such as premature birth, stillbirth, maternal death, and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Not only can drinking alcohol during pregnancy increase the chances of miscarriage, premature birth and a baby having a low birthweight, but it can also have lasting effects on the baby once they are born, potentially resulting in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Exposure to cocaine during pregnancy has been linked to diminished intellectual ability, concentration difficulties, language impairments, issues with executive functioning, and a host of emotional and behavioral problems.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of health problems for developing babies, including preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects of the mouth and lip, as well as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Finally, marijuana exposure in utero can affect attention, visual perceptual abilities, and behavior problems, including delinquent behavior. It is important that pregnant women avoid use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco/nicotine in order to provide their baby with optimal growing conditions.

Substance Abuse Treatment In Women: Addiction Recovery & Relapse Prevention

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for substance abuse, providing one-on-one sessions with a therapist that help individuals identify the root cause of their substance use and how to change their behavior accordingly. It also equips people with the tools to use healthier coping strategies and resist the temptation to turn to drugs or alcohol in challenging situations.

Apart from CBT, several medications sanctioned by the FDA have been employed to battle opioid and alcohol use disorders – these being naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram to tackle alcohol and methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone to treat opioid use disorder. Tobacco addiction can be combated with the aid of various nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gum, lozenges, and spray, as well as prescription drugs like bupropion and varenicline.

Aside from therapies such as contingency management, animal and equine assisted therapies, and experiential therapies, studies suggest massage may aid in managing symptoms of withdrawal. To ensure successful treatment and avoid relapse, it’s wise to implement a long-term follow-up plan that encourages sobriety.

Alcoholics Anonymous has demonstrated remarkable success in treating alcohol use disorder, boasting an impressive track record of abstinence, strengthened relationships, and improved overall wellbeing for those who follow the 12-step program. Other effective treatments for addiction include detoxification, cognitive-behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, and medication-assisted treatment.

It is essential to remember that prevention is paramount to lowering the risk of substance abuse and Substance Use Disorders. Enhancing knowledge and consciousness in schools, families and the community is a critical step to avoiding addiction before it takes root.

Treatment Programs for Continued Care And Healing

Our mission at Emerge Recovery TX is to empower and nurture women in their journey of recovery from trauma and substance abuse disorders. Our vision is to provide an effective and curative pathway that enables them to take the crucial actions necessary to break away from addiction and establish long-term recovery. At Emerge Recovery TX, we take a revolutionary approach to recovery, offering individuals the chance to attain lifelong health and strength. We are devoted to providing the finest quality of professional care to women in search of long-term sobriety. 

Trauma-Informed Therapy For Women In Austin, Texas

Women struggling with serious addictions may greatly benefit from trauma-focused therapy, a highly effective form of therapy designed to teach women about their trauma, help create feelings of safety, uncover triggers, and acquire beneficial coping skills. This therapeutic approach can also reduce stress-related symptoms and facilitate trauma processing and integration.

Group Therapy For Women Recovering From Drug Abuse

Group therapy can be a powerful and beneficial form of treatment for women fighting drug addiction. In the group setting, a feeling of companionship and solidarity is fostered, giving these women a sense of support and connectedness.

The group setting not only affords members the chance to gain various viewpoints but also provides a chance to expand their knowledge on the matter, as well as give valuable insight into their own obstacles.

Group therapy not only boosts accountability and self-confidence but also helps women in recovery transition smoothly and securely. Overall, it can be a powerful way for women facing addiction to gain support, understanding, and motivation to pursue their recovery journey.

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

Related Posts

Subscribe our newsletter to get
latest news & updates

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit