The “Facts”

  • Studies consistently indicate that women are less likely to seek treatment than men.
  • Women experience greater resistance to seeking treatment as a result of the stigma associated with women’s substance abuse or problem gambling.
  • Women who are pregnant or parenting experience particular barriers to treatment such as mistrust of professionals, fear of consequences related to loss of children, and lack of affordable and accessible child care.
  • Pregnant and parenting women often experience more harsh judgment and unsympathetic responses to their use than do parenting men.
  • Other barriers to treatment for women include familial responsibilities, lack of transportation, and inconvenient hours or program flexibility.
  • An important difference between men and women is the way they understand their reasons for using drugs, alcohol or gambling. Women and girls commonly report using drugs, alcohol, and gambling as a way to cope with problems, improve self-confidence, and relieve anxiety and other mood disorders. Treatment approaches therefore must recognize gender specific needs.
  • Approximately 67% of women with substance abuse problems also have a concurrent mental health disorders, such as, anxiety, depression, phobias, and panic disorders.
  • Studies show that a large number of women with substance abuse or problem gambling issues have experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual violence.
  • It is estimated that approximately 1 in 3 women have experienced violence at some point in their lives.
  • It is reported that alcohol abuse is 15 times more likely among women who have experienced violence at the hand of their partner than among the general population.
  • The rate of childhood sexual abuse is significantly higher among women with substance abuse problems than in the general population. Research shows that childhood trauma significantly increases risk for PTSD and addiction.
  • Women who have been sexually abused are almost four times more likely to use psychoactive medication.
  • Women report higher rates of using in all categories of prescription drugs with the most common medications being sleeping pills, anti-depressants, painkillers, tranquilizers.
  • Alcohol is the most commonly used substance for women and the number of women who abuse alcohol has been steadily raising over the last ten years.
  • Approximately one quarter of intravenous drug users are women.
  • Women who use intravenous drugs have higher mortality rates and are more susceptible to HIV.