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Women and Substance Abuse

All kinds of American women abuse drugs and alcohol. They may be rich or poor, young or old, urban or rural, professional or homemaker.

Addiction-related diseases kill four times as many American women as breast cancer, but it is a health problem that rarely receives enough attention. This is critical, considering the impact it has on the woman and those around her.

Because women are more often the family care providers, the entire family is affected when the mother, wife, daughter, sister, or aunt suffers from addiction. 

Understanding the reasons behind women’s drug and alcohol problems can help you help yourself or a loved one start on the road to recovery.

The facts

Many women with alcohol and drug problems also suffer from mental health conditions often related to past physical or sexual abuse. These include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder. 

Some women abuse drugs to relieve stress or boredom or to improve their mood. They may turn to drugs to reduce sexual inhibitions, increase confidence, or lose weight.

Studies have found women also turn to drugs or heavy drinking after a life crisis, such as miscarriage, divorce, or unemployment.

These past and present issues often present specific and additional challenges for women and their treatment providers. 

The way out

Fortunately, with professional  treatment, women can and do recover. Some can find support and recovery through community organizations, faith-based programs, or 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Treatment and community support provides stability for women, making them feel less alone because they are connected with a community. Treatment and support groups allow them to gain wisdom and strength and to learn that, although recovery is an ongoing process, it does not have to be tackled alone.