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Women and Recreational Drug Use in America

As the years pass us by, drug and alcohol addiction becomes more of a problem for our nation’s women than it ever has been before.  Now, we live in a country that struggles intensively with substance abuse to the degree of it being a regular occurrence in some demographics, and an accepted standard in many others.  The increase in nationwide substance abuse has occurred across the boards as far as demographics go, but no demographic has been harmed as badly as women have.

There is no doubt that drug abuse statistics are rising, as the trend has been stable for more than a decade.  And yet, when we look even further we can see that it is the specific demographics that have shown such significant increases in substance abuse statistics that the extensive need for remediation is present.  When it comes to women and substance abuse, there are now fifteen-million women who abuse drugs and alcohol, where-as twenty years ago there were far less than that.  With fifteen-million addicted though, that is almost thirteen percent of all women of the age of eighteen or older, and the numbers on that are just getting worse with each passing year.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine in association with the National Institutes of Health performed a fascinating study on the relationship of substance abuse to gender.  They studied each decade, taking the study several decades back, to examine how addiction has affected men and women.  Here is their summary of where this problem is heading:

  • “Gender differences in rates of substance abuse have been consistently observed in the general population and treatment-seeking samples, with men exhibiting significantly higher rates of substance use, abuse, and dependence.  However, recent epidemiological surveys suggest that this gap between men and women has narrowed in recent decades.  For example, surveys in the early 1980s estimated the male/female ratio of alcohol-use disorders as 5:1, in contrast to more recent surveys that report a ratio of approximately 3:1.”

This shows the trend for exactly what it is, a leveling of the playing field so to speak, and a clear distinction of increasing substance abuse among women, while substance abuse among men stays relatively the same.  Recreational drug users are now almost just as likely to be female as they are to be male, and particularly with prescription drug abuse, this is actually more likely to be a woman’s problem than a man’s problem in present day America.

Recreational Use of Drugs

For most, drug use first starts with the recreational use of drugs.  Most drug users start as recreational drug users and then transition out from that and into a more regular substance abuse pattern.  For women, the recreational use of drugs usually transitions very quickly into regular substance abuse if the recreational use is not first addressed rapidly.  Women generally speaking use substances differently than men do, using smaller amounts and for a shorter period of time, yet also generally speaking becoming addicted more quickly than men do.

Women typically respond to substances very differently too.  They respond to cravings differently, and they are more likely to relapse after treatment.  Furthermore, while women are less likely to abuse drugs than men are, even in this day and age, those women who do choose to abuse drugs have a higher likelihood of dying from the habit than men do.  This is entirely biological, with drugs typically affecting a woman’s body more severely than a man’s.  

When it comes to women and recreational drug use in America, prescription pills are by far the culprit in this recent increase in female drug addiction.  Studies from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show us that almost five-million women (or four percent) of the women over the age of eighteen, abuse prescription pill drugs.  Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates to us that every three minutes in our country, a woman goes to the emergency department for prescription drug abuse.  

One article in “U.S. News” dives deep into the aspects of recreational substance abuse in women, how damaging it can be, and how quickly it can go from bad to worse to full blown addiction.  The article also goes over how women in the 21st century are far more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol recreationally than women in the 1900s were.  According to the article which also quotes an Oxford University study:

  • “Research at Oxford found women are approximately 75 percent more likely than men to report a recent episode of depression and 60 percent more likely to report an anxiety disorder. The same study concluded that cumulatively, women are up to 40 percent more likely than men to develop a mental health condition.  Such findings are relevant because anxiety, depression and/or other mental illnesses often co-occur with substance abuse (as a form of self-medicating symptoms of an underlying disorder) – so much so that treating “co-occurring disorders” is now an established norm in substance abuse treatment. In theory, women’s greater vulnerability to mental illness also makes them more vulnerable to substance abuse.”

This of course is only the tip of the iceberg.  It’s not just a mental illness factor, though the advent of the sort of ridiculous, “Popularity of mental illness as a reason for all of our problems in the 21st century” is certainly a big factor in why more and more women are now abusing drugs and alcohol these days.  But there are other factors at play here.

Why Do People Use Recreational Drugs?

There are more factors for women substance abuse.  Substances are simply more available for women now for one thing.  Also, women are seeing substances as being a “solution” now more so than a taboo item.  Furthermore, addictive substances are more likely to be legal now more so than ever before.  Women are less likely to commit illegal acts than men are, hence their hesitancy to abuse illegal street drugs.  However, prescription drugs, the top drug of choice for women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, are also perfectly legal.  With all of these factors added together, it is no surprise that this is happening.

Luckily, there are solutions that solve the problem of, “Why do people use recreational drugs,” at its very source.  There are tools that people can work at to create and maintain sobriety, the primary one of course being rehabilitation through an inpatient facility.  Women of course respond very well to inpatient addiction treatment, as do men.  Women are also more likely to be willing to go to rehab than men are, with the small exception of addicted women who have young children.  That demographic is actually the toughest to convince!

Women who struggle with even the most simple of recreational substance abuse habits need to be helped through a treatment center.  Inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers possess the tools and the settings necessary to help even the most heavily addicted of women.  With these tools, any woman can break free and get back to a sober lifestyle.  

No woman should have to face addiction alone and with no clear idea where she can turn for help.  That is cruelty incarnate.  Thankfully, there is always a place that any woman who suffers with addiction can go to to get the tools needed to vanquish addiction for life.  A Forever Recovery can help with this.  A Forever Recovery has rehabilitated thousands of women over the course of a decade of helping people beat addiction.  For more information and to get started, reach out to A Forever Recovery today at 877-467-8363.  Don’t wait until it is too late and addiction completely consumes you or someone you care about.  Call today to get started on the path to recovery.

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