The impacts of drug use and abuse are devastating. The worst part is that it is not only the user who experiences the negative consequences. It spills over to the families and caregivers as well.
A look at drug and alcohol statistics casts a gloomy picture. There have been, since 2020, over 700,000 drug overdose deaths in the US. There has been a 3.8% year-on-year increase in the use of drugs since 2020. Moreso 24.7% of drug abusers depend on opioids such as painkillers and heroin.
What makes drug abuse especially worrying is that it is not discriminating in nature. This means that it is not a problem that belongs to one demographic. Children as young as 12 engage or have engaged in the habit. The same applies to genders because both males and females are at risk of addiction.
Now, this article seeks to explore why young women abuse drugs. Let’s see what we uncover!
The normal growing-up process comes along with a bit of experimenting. Many of us are guilty of trying alcohol and cigarettes at one time or another in our formative years. The reasons could be simple curiosity or an effort to fit in. Then, there is the use of such substances as a coping mechanism.
Transitioning into womanhood, for instance, comes with its challenges. For some, coping with early puberty and body changes can result in self-esteem issues. This can lead to stress and the need for an escape through drug use.
Parents must be especially vigilant at such times. Substance use and the final path to addiction doesn’t happen overnight. Neither is it always an individual problem. A deeper exploration of the root cause can uncover exacerbating family issues. That is why the Heights Treatment recommends early intervention and family counseling services. Clients undergo integrative and evidence-based treatments. They learn to overcome trauma or other behavioral factors that lead to drug use.
But there are more reasons why young ladies will abuse drugs:
If you look at coping mechanisms between men and women, you will notice a big difference. The former can turn to aggressive behavior or delinquency to express frustration. On the other hand, ladies tend to internalize their feelings. A pileup of unresolved emotions and feelings can lead to severe stress. This will manifest in withdrawals and depression.
Self-medication with drugs and alcohol becomes the only way they can cope with daily life. Studies show a direct link between motivation to use addictive substances and stress. The same applies to stress-induced relapses or drug cravings.
An inability to cope can also extend to academic pressures. Transitioning into high school, for instance, increases the demands of learning. For some students, it can get too much, and they look for a way to cope. That makes them more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse.
Research shows why women are more at risk of abusing drugs than men. Ladies are more likely to become addicted even if they use smaller drug amounts over a shorter time. They are also at a higher risk of drug cravings and relapse. Sex hormones make ladies more sensitive to drugs. And, their brain changes are different from the men’s.
So why is all this important? Well, the focus on mental health has health care providers dishing out all manner of medication. According to a study, it hypothesizes that overmedication is one of the primary reasons for addiction in females. It could be due to the emphasis on chemical interventions.
We also should not forget that ladies may suffer from repeated chronic pains. A good example would be those associated with menstruation. It will lead to a cycle of dependence on painkillers. This can easily tip over into addiction and abuse.
Another is media manipulation and coping with inequality and lack of self-fulfillment. Young women are trying to find a place in a male-dominated society and this could be one of the reasons why.
The challenges of breaking through such barriers lead to stress and depression. A quick fix to cope is through prescription drugs and a sure slippery slope into addiction.
Unresolved trauma is a significant contributor to drug abuse amongst young women. 80% of women seeking substance abuse treatment have suffered physical or sexual assault. They will take up habits like drinking, smoking, and drug use to cope.
Female patients diagnosed with substance abuse and PTSD were child abuse victims. This also places them at greater risk in their adult years. Besides substance abuse, they may also display other interpersonal and psychiatric issues.
The best way of helping such clients does not lie solely with chemical intervention. Intensive therapy sessions with the individual and family members are critical. Other strategies like cognitive behavioral therapies can also help.
Physical looks are very important to young people. Social media, influencers and celebrities exacerbate the pressure to look good. The use of drugs to achieve the perfect look is not uncommon. Stimulants, for instance, promise quick weight loss.
Others will take appetite suppressants and diuretics to avoid weight gain. Also, painkillers will help deal with the hunger pangs and other pains. Then, there are drugs and alcohol to cope with the disappointment of imperfection.
Self-esteem can also manifest in the adoption of unhealthy habits. To look cool or trendy, young ladies will experiment with drugs. Further, FOMO or fear of missing out is a real challenge as well. Impressionable youngsters can adopt maladaptive behavior to fit in.
The challenges of being a young lady are already enough without adding drug abuse into the mix. Parents and caregivers must be vigilant, especially during the transitional years. As the young lady leaves childhood behind, there is a need for great vigilance.
As we stated, drug abuse and the slide into addiction is not something that happens overnight. Learning how to tell or check signs of drug use is essential. Early intervention can also help avoid the slide into a full-blown addiction.
Seeking treatment from qualified professionals is critical. It is not only about taking care of the drug abuse with other chemicals. Rather it is an intense process that incorporates different interventions. Such include counseling and therapy.
The professionals will also try to determine the root cause of the addiction. We talked about the example of unresolved trauma. This will ensure higher success in whatever interventions they decide to use.