Women and Addiction in Europe

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In the past substance abuse has been thought of as a principally male issue.  However, over the last three decades the numbers of women addicted to substances has risen steeply and statistics now show that adolescent girls and young women aged 12-20 are more likely to underage drink, binge drink or misuse prescription drugs and stimulants than boys of the same age.

Why are so many women and girls turning to drugs?
It could be any of several reasons which have contributed to this.
  • Pressure on women wanting both a family and a career, quite often still being the main caregiver and housekeeper – meaning that there are just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day!
  • An unrealistic depiction in the media of the ideal body – some women are turning to drugs to help them lose weight and look a certain way.
  • Later in life the growing number of older women who turn to alcohol and pills to help them cope with the side effects of the menopause - fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and other changes in the body.
  • Plus, the ever-increasing women of all ages self-medicating with booze and drugs because of underlying mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

Other shocking and incredibly sad statistics show the numbers of women turning to drugs because of trauma and/or rape. Studies indicate that 37% of female addicts have experienced childhood abuse, and 75% of female addicts have experienced sexual assault – 45% of these more than once. Other factors to note are -
  • Women tend to get addicted to substances more quickly, after taking smaller amounts.
  • Women are more likely to have serious physical health effects. Women’s bodies often can’t cope in the same way as men.
  • Women tend to experience stronger drug cravings; scientists are unsure if this is medical or the way women react to triggers, stress and anxiety.
  • Women are at a higher risk of relapse – even after successfully completing treatment. It is important to combat this that a strong aftercare program and support structure is implemented.

Whatever the reason, if you or someone you love is experiencing problems with drugs or alcohol contact our professional addiction specialist team, Phoenix Programmes, on their confidential helpline +34 685 582 150

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