How Addiction Affects Women Differently than Men
Addiction to drugs or alcohol affects each and every person differently; however, women in general experience different, and at times more harmful, effects than men. Below are various ways in which women with an addiction are affected differently.
Addiction Can Affect Any Woman
Many people have a stereotypical image of a woman with an addiction. However, addiction is not just for homeless people or irresponsible adolescents and young adults; in fact, an addiction to alcohol, cocaine, medications, and other drugs can affect any woman of any culture, nationality, ethnicity, and age.
Women Experience Emotions Differently
Women tend to be more emotional than men are. Additionally, women often dwell on these emotions which can cause depression, anger, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, stress, and fear. Emotional issues that women with an addiction may be dealing with include past traumatic experiences, abuse, guilt, hopelessness, the search for approval from others, and more.
Women and the Abuse of Prescription Medications
Studies have shown that women may be more vulnerable to prescription medication addiction because the drugs are legally obtainable through a doctor and are more socially acceptable to use. Many women who abuse prescription medications do so because they are attempting to cope with unpleasant, emotions or feelings, such as depression and low self esteem.
Alcohol Effects on Women
Women typically have more fat than men do; this means that the way they absorb alcohol is different and causes intoxication to happen much more rapidly. Women tend to be much smaller than men are, therefore they have less blood to dilute the alcohol; this also causes faster intoxication. Recent studies are showing that women develop an addiction to alcohol faster and easier than men do. This could be due to the way a woman’s body processes alcohol, as well as the difference in hormones.
Consequences of Using While Pregnant
When a woman becomes pregnant while abusing drugs or alcohol she is not only putting her life in danger, but also the unborn baby inside her. If she continues to use during her pregnancy, the baby may develop serious consequences that can be permanent or even fatal. The infant may be born prematurely, have a low birth weight, develop infections, have birth defects, stunted growth, learning difficulties, fetal alcohol syndrome, or die from sudden infant death syndrome. If the mother breastfeeds while abusing, she can pass the drugs onto the baby through her breast milk and further any complications. It should be noted that if a pregnant woman has an addiction and decides to get treatment, the above risks can be significantly decreased as long as she is able to stay clean.
Health Effects on Women
Abuse and addiction greatly affects a women’s immune system, which can cause severe health problems, especially if using has been for a prolonged period of time. Many professionals in the field believe that a woman can develop greater health problems, especially those affecting the liver. Some consequences that may arise as a result of a drug or alcohol addiction include, but are not limited to, hepatitis, HIV, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and/or respiratory problems, kidney and/or liver damage, mental health issues, and cognitive disabilities.
Treating a Woman with an Addiction
Research has shown that once a woman realizes she has an addiction, she is still less likely to get treatment than a man is. This is likely due to fear of losing family or friends, fear of being punished by authorities, embarrassment or shame. It is important for any woman struggling with an addiction to realise that there is no shame in admitting they need help.
Past studies have shown that treatment programmes offering one-on-one and group therapy, relationship counselling, life skills education, as well as access to support groups are highly beneficial to women with addiction. Additionally, these studies have discovered that aftercare programmes which allow a woman to communicate with therapists and/or counselors greatly help the overall sobriety.
We Understand and Will Help
The Cabin Chiang Mai is a drug and alcohol rehab located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We have specially trained staff that understands the needs of a woman during and after treatment for addiction. During treatment we help women to discover what may be the underlying problem of the drug or alcohol addiction. Through daily therapy, group sessions, outdoor activities, and support and compassion from the centre’s staff a woman will be given the necessary tools to overcome her problems and learn how to live a happy and sober life.