Anyone can struggle with addiction, and women are not immune to these struggles. In fact, the impacts of addiction on women can be more severe than on men. There are a number of factors including social, economic, and personal history that can contribute to a woman struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Understanding how addiction can affect women is a vital component to these women who are struggling to seek the professional help they need.
Women and Addiction Overview
Addiction in women has a unique set of circumstances that men with addictions do not experience. Women often develop addictions faster than men do. The number of women struggling with substance use disorders across the country is staggering, and the fact that they develop addictions quicker than men do plays a part in this.
It is also common for women to turn to substances like drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with hormonal imbalances. The monthly menstrual cycle that women endure causes significant emotional and mental changes. During this time they could experience migraines, back pain, fatigue, rage, and hostility. It is common for women to turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with these changes. Self-medicating like this often leads to addiction.
Risk Factors for Women and Addiction
Understanding potential risk factors for addiction in women can help when it comes to addressing potential addiction. Genetics plays a huge role in someone’s susceptibility to developing an addiction. Women with a family history of drug and alcohol addiction are more likely to develop an addiction themselves than those without this family history.
The environment also plays a role when it comes to addiction in women. When a woman is in a chaotic and unhealthy environment, they often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope and manage stress. As previously stated, self-medicating in this manner can lead to dependence and addiction to the substances.
Lifestyle can impact addiction as well. For instance, women who have highly stressful careers or demanding home lives can turn to substances to alleviate stress and anxiety surrounding their circumstances.
Trauma is also one of the main contributing factors for women developing addiction. The number of women who have experienced sexual trauma and turn to substances to cope is astronomical. The shame and guilt surrounding the trauma often contribute to their struggle with drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, trauma can make fighting addiction more complex.
Health Risks for Women with Addiction
Women’s health is an important topic in communities across the United States. Addiction in women can lead to some severe impacts on their health. Illicit substances like opioids, cocaine, and prescription drugs can cause complications in the health of women. Abnormalities in gastrointestinal health, changes in menstrual cycles, as well as changes in neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems can be results of addiction in women.
Other impacts on women’s health as a result of drug and alcohol addiction include:
- Liver disease
- Damage to reproductive organs
- Neurological damage
- Breast cancer
- Cognitive damage
Addressing addiction in women as quickly as possible is extremely important to preventing these severe health complications.
Pregnancy and Addiction
Addiction during pregnancy can have severe consequences on both mom and baby. While it is common knowledge that drugs and alcohol can have adverse effects on an unborn baby, women struggling with addiction who become pregnant simply cannot stop themselves from using substances.
Drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, stillbirths, and addiction in the baby once it is born. An infant experiencing withdrawal symptoms can be heartbreaking and extremely dangerous.
Intimate Partner Violence and Addiction
Domestic, or intimate partner violence can have an impact on addiction in women. Women often have an innate capability of recognizing the good in someone and tend to find it hard to leave unhealthy relationships. When sexual violence and trauma occur in their intimate relationships, rather than leaving the situation and healing, they often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. They could potentially believe that they can “fix” the person or situation.
In addition, the same holds true for physical and emotional abuse. Women in abusive relationships are often made to believe that they are the problem, they caused their partner to cause them physical and emotional harm. The chaos and harm caused by abusive relationships can lead a woman to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their life circumstances.
When these substances are used for coping purposes, the woman could continue to use them to deal with the trauma they are struggling with. Prolonged use of drugs and alcohol leads to dependence and addiction, making it extremely difficult to stop without professional help.
Help for Women with Addiction
Struggling with addiction is a difficult task for anyone. Women are no different. Once dependence and addiction have been reached, it can be extremely difficult to overcome and build a healthy and happy life. It is crucial to get the right help in order to address and overcome addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling, Ocean Hills Recovery in Orange County, CA, can help. Our trained and professional staff can help as you begin a journey to a better lifestyle.
Contact us today and begin your journey.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.