What Makes Young Women Prone to Addiction?

Women are suffering with drug addiction and alcoholism for reasons significantly different than men. This is why gender specific treatment is the most successful when considering addiction rehabilitation for women.

Women Abuse Substances for Different Reasons than Men

A 3 year study revealed that girls and young women use addictive substances for reasons different than boys and young men. The study showed that the signals and situations of higher risk among women are different, and that girls and young women are more vulnerable to abuse and addiction. Females tend to get hooked faster and suffer the consequences sooner than boys and young men.

The Formative Years study identified characteristics of girls and young women who abuse substances and when they are at the highest risk of doing so. It assessed the impact of such use–including the likelihood that experimentation would become addiction–for girls and young women.

The study found that risk factors such as low self-esteem, peer pressure, and depression make young women more vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction. The study also showed that females become dependent much faster and suffer the consequences sooner when compared to males.

Marketing Directed Towards Women

For decades, the for-profit marketers, including the tobacco, alcohol and entertainment industries, have recognized the importance of shaping campaigns to influence girls and young women. For decades, cigarette companies have cleverly manipulated young women. The 1925 Lucky Strike cigarette advertising campaign, “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet,” was associated with a 200 percent increase in market share. Capri cigarette ads claim, “There’s no slimmer way to smoke” and call Capri cigarettes “the slimmest slim in town.”

Who Gives Young Women Alcohol & Cigarettes?

Girls are more likely to be offered drugs by a female acquaintance, a young female relative or a boyfriend, whereas boys are more likely to be offered drugs by a male acquaintance, a young male relative, a parent or stranger. Girls are likelier to receive offers to smoke, drink or use drugs in private settings, whereas boys are likelier to receive these offers in public settings. Girls are less likely to be asked to show proof of age when buying cigarettes.

How Substance Abuse Effects Young Women

  • Girls who abuse substances are likelier to be depressed and suicidal–increasing the risk for substance abuse.
  • More than one-third (34.5 percent) of high school girls report regular feelings of sadness or hopelessness (compared to 21.6 percent of boys). There is a relationship between girls’ sense of hopelessness or depression and their smoking, drinking or using drugs.
  • High school girls who smoke or drink are nearly twice as likely to report feeling depressed as those who have never smoked (47 percent vs. 25.3 percent) or drank (38.7 percent vs. 20 percent). Those who use marijuana are likelier to report feeling sad or hopeless than those who have never used marijuana (42.9 percent vs. 29.7 percent).
  •  Girls who engage in unhealthy dieting behaviors drink significantly more alcohol than nondieters.
  •  Although alcohol is high in calories and contributes to weight gain, only half (56 percent) of the girls surveyed were aware of this; 5.7 percent thought that drinking alcohol helps one lose weight.
  • Girls are likelier than boys to have been physically or sexually abused. Such girls are at increased risk for substance abuse. 17 percent of high school girls have been abused physically (vs. 12 percent of boys); 12 percent of high school girls have been abused sexually (vs. five percent of boys).
  • Girls who have been physically or sexually abused are twice as likely to smoke (26 percent vs. 10 percent), drink (22 percent vs. 12 percent) or use drugs (30 percent vs. 13 percent) as those who were not abused.
  • Among teens who move frequently from one home or neighborhood to another, girls are at greater risk than boys of smoking, drinking and using drugs.

Ref:The Formative Years: Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls and Young Women

Clearly for the reasons stated above, gender specific treatment is vital to a woman’s recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Balboa Horizons is a leading gender specific addiction treatment center located in California. Please call us today if you or a woman you know needs help. 1(866)316-4012

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