Women Turn to Substance Abuse to Cope with Mounting Social Pressures

Posted on September 6th, 2012
Posted in Women & Alcohol

There is a lot of pressure from society for women to have it all. We’re taught that it’s completely plausible to have a great career, be a first-rate mom, and look great doing it. But inside, many women pursuing this path of perfection are falling apart.

Data shows that substance abuse by women is increasing. According to the National Institute of Health, women have an easier time getting addictive drugs like those used to treat anxiety than men. And, death rates for women who abuse alcohol are at 50 to 100 percent higher than their male counterparts.

Data from the Hanley Center, a non-profit addiction treatment facility, shows that women often seek prescription drugs to deal with the mounting stress of trying to juggle being a wife, mother, and financial provider. But successfully keeping all the balls in the air is a big load, and the notion that women were ‘built for this sort of thing’ is flawed.

Sara Gentry, the Hanley Center’s Clinical Director of Women’s Treatment Services, says it has become commonplace for women to drink or medicate away their problems. Because of this, many have a hard time recognizing that they might have an issue. For that reason, loved ones often play a key role in helping to identify when things get out of hand.

Gentry advises friends and family to watch out for several key signs. Abrupt mood swings could be one of the first signs of a problem. They can be followed by a lack of interest in things that were once important. The person may also become very forgetful and have a hard time concentrating.

If someone goes missing for an extended period without notifying loved ones, it is definitely cause for concern – especially if it is out of character. Another red flag is when daily events regularly involve alcohol or when a person can’t drink socially without doing so to excess. Many times, substance abuse problems will also manifest themselves in a person’s lost interest to maintain her appearance.

Treating women is the Hanley Center’s specialty, and the center is the only treatment facility in the U.S. to show women how hormones influence their addiction.

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