The Unique Risk Factors of Substance Use in Women

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A quick review of substance use statistics clearly reveals a startling trend: in many cases, women are more prone to substance use than their male counterparts. There are many reasons for this, but it illuminates the urgency of seeking treatment for women dealing with these struggles. Here are some of the most common risk factors of substance abuse in women to be on the lookout for.

Family History and Trauma

It is estimated that among women dealing with substance use, as many as 55% to 99% are survivors of physical or sexual abuse. Much of this abuse takes place within the family. So therefore, women who have a history of trauma are more susceptible to struggling with substances. Similarly, families with a history of substance use foster this behavior, so it often recurs in women who are raised in such homes. Childhood and family environments play a major part in determining one’s relationship with substances, and unhealthy experiences often trigger unhealthy uses.

Untreated Mental Illnesses

It is also common for women with mental illnesses to turn to substance use in order to self-medicate. This is especially true for mental illnesses that are not otherwise treated through medication, therapy, and other healthy solutions. Some of the mental illnesses that might commonly coincide with substance use include the following:

• Schizophrenia
• Bipolar Disorders I & II
• Clinical depression
• General anxiety
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Borderline personality disorder

Any of these conditions can cause immense stress and motivate a woman to seek out coping mechanisms, including substances that temporarily alleviate the strain of their struggles. Finding the appropriate treatment for mental illness while also addressing a substance use disorder is important to fostering good mental health.

Relationships and Partners’ Behavior

Just as one’s family can foster unhealthy substance use, a woman’s relationship with her partner may also increase risk. A relationship in and of itself can trigger unhealthy substance use if it is stressful, abusive, or coercive. If a woman’s partner uses substances, though, this even further increases the risk that she will start to do the same. It’s important to take an honest look at the relationships in one’s life when assessing potential risk factors. Intimate relationships are no exception.

Unemployment and Financial Stress

Unemployment and underemployment are incredibly stressful for anybody. For women, this situation can cause financial dependency on a partner and emotional dependency on other resources, such as substances. The financial stress of employment insecurity is often enough to trigger substance use for women who are already at risk because of other factors. Even for those who are securely employed, too, job stress may increase risk of substance use.

Overcome Substance Use Struggles

If you or someone you love are suffering from a substance use disorder, the first step to achieving long-term wellness is seeking professional help. High Focus Centers uses evidence-based treatment techniques to help patients overcome substance use. If you would like to know more about our treatment models, contact us today to begin your path to recovery.