Women may face unique issues when faced with substance use and dependence due to sex related biological differences and due to gender related social and cultural role expectations and availability of treatment. Other special issues include the effects of drugs on the hormonal and reproductive cycle. Many life situations exist in women such as abuse, violence that require specialized treatment approach.
Facts unique to the female substance user
Women tend to become addicted at lower dosages of substance in much lesser time.
Women may experience more physical effects on their heart and their blood vessels
Women present a more severe clinical profile with greater medical, behavioural, psychological and social problems.
Women take to substance use more in response to stress and negative emotions.
Women are more likely to develop overdose
Divorce, loss of partner, domestic violence, abuse can be some triggers for women substance abuse
Women who use substance may be more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety and depression
Women taking substance during pregnancy and breastfeeding have greater risk of still births and short term and long term consequences in the baby.
Women smoking can lead to earlier menopause, difficulty getting pregnant or have spontaneous abortions
Women quitting smoking are more concerned about weight gain and relapse faster than men.
Women may experience more intense withdrawals than men.
Women may avoid seeking treatment due to financial status and social fears.
Treatment of Substance Abuse
Most substance use recovery programs have been designed for men and fail to capture the unique needs of the female patient. Medication is needed to deal with withdrawals, treat co morbid psychiatric conditions and maintain abstinence. Behavioral Couples Therapy BCT is aimed at the women client and the spouse or intimate partner to reward abstinence and to reduce familial and relationship conflicts. BCT improves outcomes by reducing partner violence, increasing marital satisfaction, lower substance use severity, and improvement in psychosocial functioning.