Women and addiction is a problem that has spread beyond being primarily a male problem and has become one that influences women just as severely. That’s not entirely accurate, though – while abuse rates may be leveling out and becoming more even between the genders, the effects of abuse and addiction are often higher in women than they are in men. And many women struggle to get through treatment and recovery in a way that men don’t, which has become a near epidemic in many parts of the nation.
The reasons for this troubling situation are very numerous. For example, women and addiction rates have only recently become epidemic, and few specialists have had the time to study these effects as heavily as they have those in men. However, the very nature of being a woman often causes them to experience not only higher rates of addiction but a more difficult time overcoming this dependency through treatment and recovery.
Even worse, women often have higher rates of mental health problems, like PTSD, anxiety, and depression, that may worsen their level of dependency. As a result, programs like 12 step program and detox are often not as useful for women as they are for men, even if they are dedicated to their care and want to quit abusing drugs. Sadly, many treatment specialists believe that this issue is going to get worse before it gets any better.
Therefore, you need to understand why women experience much higher rates of addiction than men. You also need to know about the various treatment methods available for addiction in women and how to implement them properly. Fully understanding these details can help you get the care that you need or steer someone who you love into the proper therapy option to return them to the drug-free life that they want and deserve.
Reason Why Women Abuse Substances
Multiple studies have shown that the reasons that women abuse substances like benzos, Xanax, opiates, and heroin vary heavily from that of men. While men mostly abuse substances because they like how the physical effects feel and how it helps make them feel happier, women typically have more complex issues that trigger substance abuse. For example, various studies have found that the lifetime rates of mood and anxiety disorders are higher in women regardless of substance abuse disorders than it is in men.
This study found that women who suffered from substance-abuse disorders had mood and anxiety disorders at rates of 29.7 percent and 26.2 percent. Significant depressive order was present in about 15 percent of women with substance-abuse disorders while anxiety was also common in around the same number. Phobias, such as social anxiety, were a very troubling issue that often triggered substance abuse in many women.
Other health issues, such as eating disorders, nutritional problems, PTSD, and much more were also more common in women with substance-abuse disorders than in men. For example, 40 percent of all women with eating disorders also had an addiction to one or more substance. The results of these studies are conclusive – women most often abuse drugs like alcohol as a way of managing their mental health symptoms.
Further studies also found that women were more likely to abuse substances for social interaction rather than personal gratification. For example, women smokers often continued to abuse cigarettes because they enjoyed spending time with fellow smokers and interacting with them. Other substances, like alcohol and even methamphetamine, are also considered common drugs to many women with a substance abuse disorder. This factor differed in men, who often preferred to abuse drugs alone.
Furthermore, women often experience addiction rates at different levels than men and usually prefer different substances. Fully understanding what substances women tend to prefer can help you fully understand why women are at more risk for addiction than men. Just as importantly, it can help you create a solution for addiction that works for you or anyone else you love with a substance-abuse disorder.
Women and Addiction Substances Typically Abused
The rates of substance abuse in women have risen sharply over the last few decades and nearly match those of men in many ways. For example, while men typically abuse alcohol at a higher level than women, the usage difference has gotten much smaller than it was in the past. At one point, the rate was 4:1 in favor of men – particularly in the 1950s – but has become nearly 1:1 in certain age groups.
Interestingly – and unfortunately – women also tend to become addicted to alcohol more quickly than men. The intervals between a woman’s first instance of alcohol use and her addiction or treatment are usually much shorter than in men. This situation is known as telescoping and is due to many factors, such as women having lower first-pass metabolic rates and a more difficult time metabolizing alcohol than men. As a result, they become addicted more quickly and with more intensity than men.
Beyond alcohol, though, many women are often inspired to try stimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, because the effects are usually more potent for them. As a result, the substance abuse admission rates for stimulants has doubled between 1995 to 2005 and has gotten even higher in more recent years, often as high as 24 percent of all recovery admissions.
The more potent and high-quality effect caused by stimulants in women when compared to men is typically explained by the different levels of hormones women have in their bodies than men. For example, estrogen levels increase women a woman uses stimulants while her progesterone levels decrease. As a result, they typically develop an addiction more quickly than men because the chemistry of their bodies rewards them at a higher rate.
These influences are also a huge reason why women get so addicted to opioids and opiates, heroin and other intravenous drugs, cannabis, and nicotine. Unfortunately, all of these factors also explain why women tend to relapse more heavily than men and more frequently. While these issues are often related to mental health problems like trauma, depression, and anxiety, detox, and 12 step program treatment may be sabotaged by a woman’s own body.
Reasons Why Women and Addiction Suffer From Relapse More Quickly
Relapse is a real problem with women who suffer from serious substance-abuse disorders. And the reasons behind these relapses are often quite easy to understand. For example, the physical pain that women experience when going through withdrawal and detox is usually quite higher than the pain that men feel. And while women do have a higher threshold of pain than men, they may relapse to stop this excessive pain.
And the high levels of anxiety and depression in women also likely lead to these higher rates. For example, researchers at Oxford found that women were 75 percent more likely than men to report depression and 60 percent more likely to report anxiety. These higher levels typically mean that a woman falls back into substance abuse as a way of coping with these issues.
Even worse, many women who suffer from substance abuse come from a challenging home environment. For example, it was found that 85 percent of all victims of intimate violence were female. Unfortunately, this means that women in a home where their partner abuses substances and reacts violently against them may also abuse drugs as a way of coping or even trying to connect with their partner.
All of these challenges make substance abuse a tight spot for a woman to fall into and often significantly decreases her chances of success. However, women who are caught by drugs can find a way out if they are willing to go to rehab and get professional help. With the caring treatment of recovery specialists, you can learn more about your mental health situations and how they cause a spiral of addiction and substance abuse.
How to Get Help
If you are a woman suffering from a substance-abuse disorder or know a woman in this tough situation, it is critical to seek out help as soon as possible. Breaking through the mental issues that trigger addiction is never an easy task and requires you to make a lot of difficult choices. The first is to accept that you have a problem and that you need somebody who can help you overcome it with style and finesse.
Once you have accepted the presence of a disorder, you can speak to a professional who fully understands how to manage this type of situation and what they can do to help you overcome it in your life. First of all, they will assess your physical health to get an idea of what kind of detox and withdrawal help that you need. You will probably also need nutritional help if you have suffered from problems with not eating properly due to your addiction issues.
After these steps are taken, these care specialists will sit down with you and provide dual-diagnosis care for your co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders are two or more mental health problems that occur at the same time and reinforce each other. In this scenario, your addiction is also considered a mental health problem. That’s because it can change the way that your mind works in negative ways.
For example, your addiction may cause you to become dependent on heroin to calm your anxiety. However, you are naturally anxious when you take this drug and have depression because of how it affects you. Unfortunately, the only time that you don’t feel these emotions is when you use heroin. As a result, you continue to abuse this drug and get caught in a cycle that is often very hard to overcome.
Dual-diagnosis helps by pinpointing these problems in your life and giving you the insight that you need to understand their effect fully. This process includes learning not only about your mental health problems by identifying the triggers that cause you to use. Triggers often vary depending on the person but can include depression, anxiety, and even individual people who encourage you to use.
Thankfully, dual-diagnosis can help you understand these problems and provide treatment that overcomes their influence on your life. For example, you may learn how to cope better with depression and anxiety by using various relaxation techniques. You will also learn how to spot your triggers and get the chance to minimize their impact on your life. Critically, this process also involves care options like cognitive-behavioral therapy, as these techniques help to change your behavior for the better.
Get the Help That You Need
As you can see, the different reasons behind addiction in women and men are very numerous and must be fully understood if you want to get the proper care that you deserve. Just as importantly, you need to do what you can to manage any mental health problems that affect your 12 step recovery and your rehab attempts. Thankfully, we at His House can help you out in this situation.
Our professionals fully understand the methods and techniques behind dual-diagnosis and can provide them to you in a simple, streamlined, and effective manner. We also understand how trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other health problems may cause you to abuse benzodiazepines, heroin, alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
With the help of our experts, you can diagnose the issues that trigger your substance abuse and find ways to manage them quickly and efficiently. Often, these steps require you to step outside of yourself and take a look at the big picture. Group therapy sessions, individual care, cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and much more can help you take an objective look at your problems and learn how to manage your addiction triggers.
And our care doesn’t stop at mental health concerns. We also work hard to provide you with dual-diagnosis, which assesses your physical dependency alongside your spiritual interests and provides care to walk you through detox and the 12 step program. Our ultimate goal is to give you the holistic treatment that you need for your physical and mental recovery. You’ll not only get detox but can also receive exercise care, nutritional advice, and much more.
So please, please contact us as soon as you can to get the help that you need to overcome your addiction. With the care of our treatment specialists, you can actualize your recovery and become a happier and healthier person in no time at all. All it takes is the dedication to pick up the phone and trust us to do what is right to get you back to a proper and drug-free lifestyle.