The development of substance use disorder is different for men and women. In most cases of substance abuse disorder in women, the disorder is something that develops during the adolescent years. During this time, women begin to learn who they are by identifying their self-confidence and self-image. So, it’s a crucial moment in time. However, it’s also a vulnerable time, and many causes of substance abuse are a result of situations and experiences that happen during this time in a woman’s life. But, what are these causes of substance abuse disorder?
#1: Concurring Mental Health Issues
Over nine million people living with substance abuse disorder in the United States have concurring mental health issues. These concurring mental health issues can include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD, ADHD, and more. In many cases, people develop addictions as the result of self-medicating the symptoms of concurring mental health issues. And, for adolescent women, this is often the case when it comes to dealing with mental health issues that may develop during this time in their lives.
#2: Internalizing Stress
Stress is a major contributor to the development of substance use disorder in young women. During adolescence, a number of things can increase stress levels for young women. This can include changes in appearance, peer pressure, bullying, social media influence, relationships, choices about the future, and much more. But, for those who haven’t developed helpful coping strategies, the urge to find something to ease stress may be overwhelming. Thus, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the feelings of overwhelming stress is common.
#3: Living Through Trauma
According to government resources, women are about twice as likely to experience trauma during their lifetime than their male counterparts. Trauma can include a wide variety of experiences including surviving a natural disaster, being the victim of abuse, witnessing or being the victim of a violent crime, war combat, and more. Living through a traumatic event or traumatic experiences can bring about the development of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This mental health issue can lead to symptoms of flashbacks, anger issues, mood swings, nightmares, and more. Without the right tools, is it hard for women to understand how to deal with the debilitating symptoms of PTSD. So, many turn to the numbing effects of drugs or alcohol, which can lead to the development of substance use disorder.
#4: Trouble With Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
It’s not uncommon for young women to struggle with their sense of self. During adolescent years, it seems that young women are more pressured to look and act a certain way, all determined by their judgemental peers and social pressures. The burden of these influences can lead to the development of low self-esteem and self-worth, which is damaging to a young woman. In many situations, young women will reach for drugs or alcohol to help cope with these pressures. But, end up developing substance use disorder as a result.
Help for Substance Abuse Disorder in Women
Substance use is a major concern for women living with this issue. It can lead to the development of physical and mental health issues. Plus, a number of negative consequences in daily life. For example, poor relationships, legal issues, financial problems, and more. Fortunately, treatment can help women living with substance use disorder get the help they need to develop healthy coping methods to deal with the issues that led to the development of addiction. And, maintain a life of sobriety for good.
Willow Place for Women is a women’s-only, outpatient mental health facility located in North Carolina that helps women living with addiction. Learn more about our outpatient addiction services right on our website and contact us today to find out how we can help.