Mandy Kloppers

Addiction in Females: 4 Unique Risk Factors

female addicts

While there is so much to love about being a woman, from our ability to feel deep emotions to the endless racks of clothes and makeup available at every store, there are some not-so-endearing aspects that come with the female form. Factors like hormones and genes may increase your risk factor for conditions like depression, cancer, and, studies now show, even addiction.

Yes, being a woman means you’re more likely to use substances, whether alcohol or drugs, and become addicted to them. While research is still ongoing, statistics show that addiction treatment for women in Orange County and other high-substance areas often outweighs the number of men.

Why is addiction so common in women, and how do you know if you’re predisposed to developing substance use disorders? Rest assured, it doesn’t happen to everyone, and if you’re aware of your risk level, you can take steps to avoid falling prey to drugs and alcohol. Check out these 4 unique risk factors to see how likely it is that you, too, may become addicted to substance use and what you can do about it if you already are.

1. There’s a History of Substance Use in the Family

In the debate of nature versus nurture, there’s a strong argument that children — particularly daughters — of parents who use nicotine, alcohol, or drugs are more likely to follow in their footsteps. Yes, there are many who choose to observe the actions of their addicted family members and stop the cycle, but that can be difficult to do if you don’t have positive outside influences or a strong moral compass. However, those with addictive tendencies due to a family history can also overcome their abuse faster because they’ve already seen the damage it does to those around them.

2. Trauma is in Your Past

Sadly, women are at a greater risk of experiencing trauma than their male counterparts. Studies show that nearly 4% of men will go through significant traumatic events that result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other mental health problems. This number skyrockets to 10% when it’s applied to women. The correlation between mental health disorders like PTSD and substance use is substantially high, and women often turn to drugs, alcohol, and other addictions to cope with the negative emotions from the trauma.

3. You’re in a Bad Relationship

While the shift to normalizing singlehood has made leaps and bounds over the past decades, women continue to feel the pressure to be “in a relationship,” start a family and be the perfect mom and wife. This often means that females aren’t as discerning in who they choose to be a partner, falling in love sooner and ending up trapped with a partner that isn’t right for them.

This choice leads to discontentment between both sides and, in some cases, abuse. Rather than make the decision to break up a family and feel as though they “failed,” women will turn to substance abuse to numb their feelings. Ultimately, this will lead to those feelings of failure anyway, as well as damage to the children and relationship. The healthy choice is to take steps to improve the marriage or get out of it before it becomes dangerous.

4. You Haven’t Treated Your Mental Health Conditions

Avoiding the diagnosis of a mental health disorder doesn’t make it go away, and neither does ignoring it once you’ve been diagnosed. If you aren’t treating your mental illness with therapy, medication, or other steps, there’s a good chance you’ll turn to substance use to cope with your symptoms.

Women are genetically predisposed to a higher risk of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD (as discussed above), borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorders. This doesn’t mean you’re less of a person. It simply means that you need a little extra help to ensure your brain and body function healthily. You can ignore the problem with substance use, but you’ll live a healthier and happier life if you treat the mental illness instead of putting a band-aid over it with drugs or alcohol.

Seeking Help is a Strong Step

From finances to relationships to striving to be the “perfect” woman, it’s easy to see why females are more likely to fall victim to addiction. If you’ve landed in this situation and aren’t sure how to get out of it, reach out for help to a professional or group around you.

There’s no shame in admitting you have a substance use disorder. In fact, it’s the strongest step you can take. From there, you will have a team of supporters cheering you on and guiding your path to a healthier, happier you.


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