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Women and Substance Abuse

There’s been an increasing amount of research on women and substance abuse in the past decade.  Alcoholism and other addictions have long been thought of as disorders that plague mostly men, but it has become more and more apparent that women and substance abuse are more connected than thought before.  Let us explore the terrain.

Women and Substance Abuse – The Why

women and substance abuseAs we’ve learned over the years, substance abuse has long been connected with high stress and pressures.  Some research has shown that the link between women and substance abuse may have something to do with the increase of women in high pressure positions in the workforce.  More and more women are turning to substance use to relieve them of the stress of balancing their careers and families.  Self-medicating and seeking an escape from stress are two large contributors to the combination of women and substance abuse.

A common theme in current research regarding women in the workforce is women and substance abuse.  With more single mothers than ever before, more women in high power positions and more women running a household in addition to a business, the link between women and substance abuse is by no means coincidental.

Besides stress, research has found a link between women and substance abuse and mental illness.  More women turn to substance use due to mental illness than men.  Science has not found a good reason as to why more mentally ill women turn to drugs and alcohol than men do.  It is important to continue our research in substance abuse counseling to learn more about why this happens and how we can help prevent and treat this problem.

Women And Substance Abuse – The Difference

Because substance abuse has long been focused as a problem that mostly men face, little is known about women and substance abuse.  Research has shown that women abuse drugs and alcohol much differently than men do.  While men may begin using in social situations, women often hide their substance use and use alone.

Another difference is purely biological.  Because men metabolize drugs and alcohol more quickly than women, women tend to feel the effects of substances sooner and more dramatically.  Some studies have suggested that the combination of women and substance abuse is increasingly more common because women crave substances during their hormonal cycle.

Women and Substance – Treatment

Because of the increasing occurrence of women and substance abuse, women-specific treatment programs are becoming more and more common.  These treatment programs are not much different from men’s programs or co-ed programs, but they do differ slightly in the sense that they tend to focus more on women and substance abuse and how it is tied to codependency and emotionality.

The research has shown that women turn from casual use to addiction much quicker than men do, which has caused more treatment facilities to turn to women-specific programs.  Women have also shown that they are more likely to stay clean after treatment than men.  When it comes to women and substance abuse treatment, facilities are very careful in making these programs comfortable for women to be open and honest, as many women turn to substance abuse because of physical and emotional abuse or trauma.  For this reason, many women and substance abuse treatment programs are careful to have women-only staff, therapists and substance abuse counselors so as to avoid a potentially threatening presence of men.

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