Crime in America.Net
Women often report that stress, negative affect, and relationships precipitate initial use. In fact, women are often introduced to substance use by a significant relationship such as boyfriend, family member, or close friend.
Parental alcohol use increases the prevalence of alcohol use disorders among women by at least 50 percent.
Marriage appears protective, whereas separated, never married, or divorced women are at greater risk for use and the development of substance use disorders.
Other risk factors associated with initiation of use and the prevalence of substance use disorders include sensation-seeking, symptoms of depression and anxiety, posttraumatic stress and eating disorders, and difficulty in regulating affect. Women with a history of trauma, including interpersonal and childhood sexual abuse, are highly represented in substance abuse samples.
Six major findings:
First, the gender gap is narrowing for substance use across ethnicities, particularly among young women.
Second, women are more likely to be introduced to and initiate substance use through significant relationships, while marital status appears to play a protective role.
Third, women accelerate to injecting drugs at a faster rate than men, and rituals and high-risk behaviors surrounding drug injection are directly influenced by significant relationships.
Fourth, women’s earlier patterns of use (including age of initiation, amount, and frequency) are positively associated with higher risks for dependency.
Next, women are more likely to temporarily alter their pattern of use in response to caregiver responsibilities.
And last, women progress faster from initiation of use to the development of substance-related adverse consequences.
Substance use is not as prevalent among women as it is among men, but women are as likely as men to develop substance use disorders after initiation.
Women develop substance use disorders in less time than men.
Significant differences have been found in the way women and men metabolize alcohol. Women have more complications and more severe problems from alcohol use than do men, and these complications and problems develop more rapidly.
Criminal justice system or child protective service involvement also is associated with longer lengths of treatment.
Gender-responsive treatment involves a safe and non-punitive atmosphere, where staff hold a hopeful and positive attitude toward women and show investment in learning about women’s experiences, treatment needs, and appropriate interventions.