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Women and Drug Abuse


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Table of Contents

The issues women face with substance abuse are unique. Biological and cultural differences between men and women influence those issues. A women’s rehab center that understands these differences plays a vital role in the success of any gender-specific treatment plan.

Women’s drug abuse tends to advance from first use to addiction more quickly than with men. Millions of females ages 18 and older have used illegal drugs in the United States in the past year. If you or a woman you know struggles with a substance use disorder, reach out to Liberty Bay Recovery center at (855) 607-8758.

Substance Use Issues Unique to Women

Women who use drugs often cite a variety of biological issues for their actions. The most common issues include those related to:

  • Menstrual cycles
  • Menopause
  • Fertility
  • Hormones
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding

In addition, women describe reasons for drug use that include fighting exhaustion, dealing with pain, controlling weight, and attempting to self-treat a variety of mental health issues.

The Science of Women and Drug Abuse

In general, women use smaller amounts of drugs for less time than men before they become addicted. They can respond to substances differently than men, as well. Women often have more intense cravings for drugs and are also more likely to relapse.

Effects of Drugs on Women’s Bodies

Women may experience more effects on their blood vessels and heart, and the changes in women’s brains are different from those in men’s brains. Hormones are thought to be responsible for many of the differences in sensitivity to substances.

In addition, women who use certain drugs may be more likely to suffer from panic attacks, depression, and anxiety. Critical life events like divorce, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a child can trigger substance use in women more often than in men. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to use drugs, and women are more likely to go to the emergency room because of the effects of drug use. They are also more likely to die from an overdose.

The Importance of Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

Treatment for women with substance use issues must be separate from treatment for men. Use disorders in women often progress differently一withdrawal may be more intense, and women can also respond differently to different treatments. Therefore, gender-specific treatment is often critical. Women may be afraid or hesitant to get help because of concerns regarding work, child care, and other daily responsibilities. Specific programs geared toward women can help and have shown excellent results.

Treatment must also be personalized to the individual. Just as men and women are not alike, no two women are alike, either. For example, one might benefit a great deal from dialectical behavioral therapy while another would fare better with medication-assisted treatment.

Counseling for Women with Substance Use Disorder

Differences between men and women influenced by sex (biology) and gender (culturally defined roles) create the need for unique substance use treatment programs. Women can encounter additional unique challenges, including low self-esteem, lesser wages, limited access to resources, and concurrent issues like eating disorders, post-traumatic effects, and mental conditions. You should get professional help from a women’s rehab center as early as possible. Programs will help women address the triggers and causes of their addictions, promote accountability, focus on healing, and engage in self-care while boosting confidence.

Overcoming Drug Abuse with Liberty Bay Recovery Center

Liberty Bay Recovery Center offers treatment programs attuned to the unique needs of women. Participants learn vital life skills that promote sobriety. If you or someone you know is ready to overcome substance use and regain the coping skills and self-empowerment needed to break addiction and stay sober, contact Liberty Bay Recovery Center at (855) 607-8758 or fill out a contact form.

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