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Women & addiction


Women face unique challenges when it comes to substance use due to:

Sex—biological differences.

Gender—differences based on the culturally defined roles for men and women.


Women provide unique reasons for using drugs like weight control, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, self-medicate to manage mental health problems.


Research established that in:

19.5 million females (or 15.4 percent) ages 18 or older have used illicit* drugs in the past year. *The term "illicit" refers to the use of illegal drugs, including marijuana according to federal law, and misuse of prescription medications. NIDA. January 2020.


  • Women often tend to use smaller amounts of drugs for a shorter duration of time before addiction sets in. Withdrawal might be more intense when they stop.

  • Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs.

  • Women using drugs can experience challenges related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, heart, and blood vessels & brain changes.

  • Women may be more likely to go to the emergency room or die from overdose.

  • Being a victim of domestic violence, divorce, loss of child custody, or loss of a significant other can increased women’s vulnerability to develop a substance abuse problem.

  • Certain substances may be more likely to trigger underlying mental health challenges and increase the symptoms such as panic attacks, anxiety, or depression. Source NIDA, January 2021.


Embrace the privilege of being a woman.


Concerned about your substance use or abuse?

Contact Elim Clinic for assistance.

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