June 4, 2010, Newsletter Issue #258: Women and Drugs

Tip of the Week

While drug abuse was once considered a "man disease," the research regarding women and addiction is gaining prevalence. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University conducted a 2005 study on young women and drug use. It was found that women aged eight to 22 years old abuse drugs for reasons different than men. The differences are not clearly indicated, but it may also be that women find that different reasons are more "socially acceptable" to report, because of the stigma not only related to substance abuse, but to women and abuse in particular.

A 2004 report of nationwide admissions into drug treatment facilities showed that women made up 31.5% of this population. The important thing to note here is that the percentage is not only high, but it also only accounts for the women who actually admitted themselves (or were court mandated) for treatment. There are numerous mothers, housewives and very successful women whom suffer silently because they do not understand and/or believe that women can or do have substance abuse problems. It is possible, then, that women are less likely to report difficulties and/or less likely to receive treatment for substance related difficulties. The studies regarding drug type related to female abuse show similar trends to the drugs reported in overall population categories. Just as more people overall tend to use (or report use of) marijuana, more women reported use of marijuana on a regular basis than of consumption of other drugs.

Drug use is also positively correlated with female incarceration. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 59.3% of state female prisoners and 47.6% of federal female prisoners reported use within the month of arrest (2004).

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