According to a recent study from Columbia University, women are actually more likely to develop chemical dependencies than men.
This study also found a number of facts that confirm what we’ve seen in decades of working with women in recovery here at New Directions for Women — women use for different reasons than do men, and they’re also much more likely to feel guilty about their habit than male addicts.
Let’s look at what the scientists are now saying about women with substance use disorder.
Women and substance use disorder
Compared to men, women in the Colombia study gave very different reasons for using drugs or alcohol than did men. Their reasons for using tended to be psychological or social.
Commonly cited examples included loneliness, depression, lack of support systems, as well as low self-esteem among the contributing factors.
Women also tended to prefer different drugs, though there was considerable overlap. Female addicts used mostly oxycontin and vicodin, followed by marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy. (The study also looked at many female alcoholics.)
According to the researchers, there were vast differences between men and women in the effects of chemical dependency. Women were much more likely to show the effects of alcohol or drug use early on in the habit, and symptoms tended to be much more severe for women. Women overall also experienced more serious mental health issues as a result of substance use.
For these and more reasons, it can be very daunting for women to get treatment. Family responsibilities and social or cultural norms often stand in the way. Compared with men, women are more likely to put off getting assistance due to having children in the family.
In fact, the most common reason for women with children not to get help for their chemical dependency is that they’re afraid doing so will result in them losing their children. At New Directions for Women, this is why we have extensive children’s care and support systems in place.
Most addiction treatment professionals considering womens’ addiction issues believe that family can also be an issue in addiction. Where drug or alcohol use plays a role in the family, women are more likely to become addicted then or later.
Plus, women who are introduced to a substance by their partner or spouse are also more likely to develop an addiction.
Most womens’ addiction counseling strategies tend to focus on her past, trying to find events which might support or have triggered the chemical dependency. NDFW counseling includes individual, group, and couples or family therapy, and we strongly recommend the latter if drugs or alcohol are playing a role in the relationship.
Yes, there is help available
New Directions for Women is the perfect way to finally take back control in your life. Based on decades of experience, we’ve developed a holistic, multifaceted approach that treats addiction on every level — physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual.
We consider ourselves a luxury treatment center, which means that our clients spend the initial part of their treatment in our facility on the edge of a nature preserve, with round the clock attention and everything they need to recover fully and quickly.
If you or someone you love has a substance problem, contact us today.