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5 Must-Know Facts About Women and Addiction



Addiction is a disease that affects people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. 

However, it’s important to note that women have unique characteristics that make them more susceptible to addiction than men.

You might be wondering: How does substance abuse affect women? How can I recognize signs of addiction in my friend or family member? 

What are some treatment options for women with addictions? These questions—and more—are answered below.


Table of Contents

Women are more susceptible to addiction than men

  • Women are more likely to relapse.
  • Women have a higher rate of co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Addiction often has a greater effect on female family members because it’s often not recognized as a disorder in women, who tend to try and hide their problems from others out of shame or embarrassment.


Genetics, biology and gender-specific risk factors affect women differently than men

  • Women are more likely to develop an addiction than men. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, women are twice as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder (SUD).
  • Women may have a harder time quitting and staying sober than men. In addition to having higher rates of addiction, studies show that women may have a harder time quitting or maintaining sobriety than their male counterparts. In fact, research has shown that female addicts tend to relapse more frequently during treatment and recovery than male addicts do.
  • The biology behind gender-specific risk factors for addiction is complex but worth exploring in order for us all as women and professionals working with them better understand how these issues affect us differently from our male counterparts.


Taking opioids during pregnancy can cause Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

Researchers estimate that as many as 1 in every 100 babies born in the United States has NAS. 

These infants are born with withdrawal symptoms, which can include high-pitched crying and difficulty sleeping.

The most common treatment for newborns experiencing NAS is methadone, an opioid used to treat heroin addiction in adults. 

However, researchers have found that methadone may not work as well for infants as for adults because infants metabolize drugs differently from adults. 

Other treatments include morphine or buprenorphine—opioids used to treat pain and drug dependence respectively

—and clonidine, a medication that helps manage sleepiness related to withdrawal symptoms.


Addiction is a disease that can be treated

Women who are addicted to drugs or alcohol need to know that they’re not alone. 

Addiction is a disease, not a choice and it affects both men and women, but the way it impacts each gender may be different.

The first step in recovery is admitting that you have a problem and asking for help. This can be difficult if you’re ashamed of your addiction or feel like you’re letting down others by asking for help. 

You’ll need to overcome this fear so that you can begin recovery from addiction.


Substance abuse treatment isn't one size fits

Treatment is not one size fits all, and the treatment options available must be tailored to the individual. 

This means that women need different treatments than men. Women are more likely to have co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety disorders. 

They also often have children and family responsibilities that can complicate recovery from substance use disorder (SUD).


It's important to know how addiction affects women so we can be proactive in treatment and prevention

Because women are more likely to become addicted than men, it is important to know how addiction affects them.

Women are more likely than men to become addicted to prescription painkillers and alcohol. They also have a higher chance of becoming addicted when they use opioids for chronic pain or other medical reasons. 

Women may be prescribed these drugs because they are more likely than men to experience conditions such as osteoarthritis, migraines, and fibromyalgia that require opioids for treatment. 

However, this does not mean that women should stop taking the drugs altogether—opioid withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening without proper medical supervision in place. 

To prevent relapse after detoxification efforts have been made, it’s crucial both before and during treatment that you seek support from family members who care about your well-being (and vice versa).

In conclusion, there are many misconceptions about women and addiction. It can be difficult to find the right treatment for women because their needs are different from men. 

We know that this is an important topic for many reasons: it affects families, it affects society as a whole and it increases the risk of relapse if we don’t address these issues properly. 

By educating ourselves on these five facts about women and addiction we can help others who may be struggling with substance abuse problems or at risk of developing them in the future.

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