How Women Experience Addiction - What to Know
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While drug addiction affects both men and women, studies show that the experience varies depending on gender. For years, addiction research only focused on drug and alcohol’s effect on men, but in the 1990s, after the inclusion of women in various studies, researchers have discovered a number of key differences in addiction between men and women.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), biological differences, along with environmental and societal factors, affect the causes of addiction, the behavior of the person with addiction, and which addiction treatments are most effective to them. Researchers also noted that while men are more likely to develop an addiction than women, women face greater challenges. They experience addiction-related medical or social consequences faster than men do, and they find it harder to quit. They are also more vulnerable to relapse.
Substance abuse statistics among women
For women, the most commonly used substances are alcohol, nicotine, and prescription medications. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that 9.4 percent of all adult men in the US were considered to have alcohol use disorder (AUD) compared to only 4.7 percent of women. It was also found that men are more likely to engage in heavy use and binge drinking, and more likely to die from alcohol-related causes.
When it comes to nicotine, 23 percent of women consume the substance compared to 35 percent of women, and it’s mostly through smoking cigarettes. But like with alcohol, it appears that women have a hard time quitting, and even if they do, they are more likely to start up again. It’s mostly due to the fact that female smokers cited fear of weight gain when thinking about quitting.
As for abusing illegal stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine, women are just as likely to be vulnerable to substance abuse as men. In fact, many women report starting the use of these substances at an earlier age than men, and again, they find it more difficult to quit. However, men are three times as likely as women to abuse marijuana.
Women are also more likely to abuse prescription opioids than men. Experts believe that it may be because women are more likely to suffer from chronic pain conditions. It also may be due to the fact there’s less stigma attached to doctor-prescribed medications like Vicodin.
Effective substance abuse treatment for women
It’s recommended that women who are struggling with addiction receive addiction treatment with comprehensive services that are tailored to their unique needs — with pregnant women as a priority. The American Society of Medicine and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that women should be screened in order to provide family planning and determine their mental health needs. Doctors also note that society needs to stop treating mothers with substance abuse disorders as child abusers, and instead help them receive the care they need.
At American Addiction Institute of Mind and Medicine, we treat you as the unique individual that you are. Our treatment methodology relies on evidence based medication-assisted treatment, harm reduction practices, and the chronic disease model of care. Led by addiction expert, Dr. Faried Banimahd, AAIMM is a leading substance abuse treatment center for Women in Orange County. Contact us today for more information about our program.
Finding Addiction Treatment For Women
There is no single path to recovery. When it comes to women seeking substance abuse treatment, they should receive a customized program that caters to their unique needs.
If you or you know someone who is grappling with addiction and need to receive treatment, we have valuable resources for you to find the best course of action. Get in touch with us today to learn more about addiction treatment in Santa Ana.
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