5 Myths about Women and Addiction

Woman

Addiction affects men and women somewhat differently. Women process emotions differently than men and are biologically more susceptible to certain mental disorders. For example, women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression. It’s also possible that trauma, family history and loss play a larger role in substance abuse for females than males.

We still have a lot to learn about the relationship between gender and addiction. For now, here are five myths and their truths.

Myth #1. Women are not as likely to get addicted as men.

This used to be true, but it is not anymore. The gender gap is closing. Sadly, women are one of the fastest growing groups of drug users in the United States. Though white males are more likely to use illegal substances at a younger age, both genders are just as likely to continue using once exposed. Roughly 4.5 million women suffer from a substance abuse disorder, 3.5 million abuse prescription drugs and 3.1 million regularly use illicit drugs.

Myth #2. Women use drugs for the same reasons as men.

Men and women do not share the same brain chemistry. Females process feelings and emotions differently, which is partly why they are more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. Women are also at a higher risk for certain trauma such as sexual assault.

There are other issues to acknowledge as well. Girls tend to have unique social pressures and are more likely to suffer from pain disorders. They also go through hormonal changes. Psychological stress is a motivator for drug use in women, so it’s important to recognize the underlying reasons that may be contributing to the problem.

Myth #3. Women are more likely to admit they need help.

Women face a number of unique barriers that may prevent them from getting help. These include:

  • Family responsibilities

  • Financial limitations

  • Transportation issues

  • Feelings of shame and embarrassment

  • Anxiety or depressive disorders

Treatment centers like The River Source offer women’s-only rehab programs that are often a better option for female drug addicts. Patients tend to feel more comfortable in this setting where they can share their sensitive feelings without distraction.

Myth #4. Substance abuse is the same in males and females.

Addiction has similar symptoms. That said, it does not affect men and women in the same way. Research shows that women tend to get addicted faster than men, even though men typically experiment with larger quantities of drugs for longer periods of time. Once a female patient is in rehab, she is more likely to have psychological, social and behavioral problems as well.  

Myth #5. Women are just as likely as men to relapse.

Female recovering addicts do very well in recovery and are less likely to relapse than men. It’s believed that women greatly benefit from therapy. However, when they do relapse, it’s for different reasons than men. Males tend to relapse to positive experiences, whereas women relapse to negative experiences.

Female-only treatment programs are effective at helping women get clean and work through their internal struggles in a safe and supportive environment. To learn more about The River Source’s rehab centers for women, call us today.