Alas, I couldn’t resist after stumbling upon this new government report , courtesy of Crime In America. It was prepared by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the HHS, and lays out how addiction is different in women than men.
I know, duh! But it’s good to see it documented along with recommendations on treatment. This is near and dear to my heart as so many of the offenders I work with, both male and female struggle with substance abuse — in fact, it’s often what led to or had a role in their arrest. As researchers note:
Numerous factors influence the reasons for initiation of substance use among women, and a number of these factors are more prevalent among women than men. Women often report that stress, negative affect, and relationships precipitate initial use. In fact, women are often introduced to substance use by a significant relationship such as boyfriend, family member, or close friend. Though genetics also may be a significant risk factor for women, more research supports familial influence—a combination of genetic and environment effects. Less is known about familial influence of illicit drugs, but parental alcohol use increases the prevalence of alcohol use disorders among women by at least 50 percent. Family of origin characteristics play a role too. Exposure to chaotic, argumentative, and violent households, or being expected to take on adult responsibilities as a child, are other factors associated with initiation and prevalence of substance use disorders among the female population.
Other notable and alarming points:
- Women are more likely to take temporary breaks in their usage for caretaking responsibilities.
- Women’s earlier patterns of use are leading to higher rates of dependency.
- Women progress faster from initiation to full blown addiction and its consequences.
The report lays out a road map for treatments that are more successful and applicable to women as well. It’s long (382 pages), but packed with info and well worth checking out if you or a loved one struggle with addiction issues.