Studies show that women who use drugs can have issues related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. In addition, women themselves describe unique reasons for using drugs, including controlling weight, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, and attempts to self-treat mental health problems.

Science has also found that:

19.5 million females (or 15.4 percent) ages 18 or older have used illicit* drugs in the past year.1 *The term “illicit” refers to the use of illegal drugs, including marijuana according to the law, and misuse of prescription medications.

Reasons why and how women are affected by substance abuse

  • Women often use substances differently than men, such as using smaller amounts of certain drugs for less time before they become addicted.
  • Women can respond to substances differently. For example, they may have more drug cravings and may be more likely to relapse after treatment.  

Women generally have lower levels of enzymes that metabolize alcohol. This makes them more likely to progress to physical complications.

  • Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs.
  • Women who use drugs may also experience more physical effects on their heart and blood vessels.
  • Brain changes in women who use drugs can be different from those in men.

Women may be more likely to go to the emergency room or die from overdose or other effects of certain substances.

  • Women who are victims of domestic violence are at increased risk of substance use.
  • Divorce, loss of child custody, or the death of a partner or child can trigger women’s substance use or other mental health disorders.
  • Women who use certain substances may be more likely to have panic attacks, anxiety, or depression.

Approach to substance abuse in women may differ from that of men. Most women are often uncomfortable being in the same treatment environment as men. This is so, mostly if there is a history of physical or sexual abuse.

Serene Rehab Centre provides a safe haven catered to the wellness of our female patients. We offer a multidisciplinary approach that includes therapy and psychiatry, to suit the needs and comfort of our female patients.

Visit Serene Rehabilitation Centre today in Karen, Nairobi.

Denis Mugambi

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