Women With Addiction
Women tend to be thought of as less likely than men to develop addiction. The gender gap is closing though, with statistics showing 4.5 million women having issues with substance abuse, 3.5 million misusing prescription drugs, and 3.1 million regularly using illicit drugs. According to the CDC, women are more likely to have chronic pain and be prescribed painkillers at higher doses, becoming more dependent than men. Why is there an increase in addiction in women? Consider some of the triggers.addiction
Triggers of addiction in women include chronic inflammatory pain like fibromyalgia, stress, exposure to trauma, interpersonal violence, low self-esteem, and social pressures. Women are at high risk for developing PTSD due to traumatic life events, such as sexual abuse and physical attacks, and unfortunately may turn to drugs in seeking relief from this emotional trauma.
Previous blog posts on depression and mental health noted the way women process emotions differently, partly due to brain chemistry. Women are more likely than men to revisit negative emotions and replay events in their mind. In efforts to manage intolerable emotions, women may try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Consider another factor related to addiction in women and the important role of hormones. addiction
Hormone imbalance affects motivation, energy, and stress levels. According to drugabuse.com, a study done at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai showed higher estrogen intensifies the brains dopamine reward pathway, creating increased pleasurable feelings. When a woman has higher estrogen and takes a drug, more enjoyment is experienced. Thus, the high is associated with greater enjoyment.
Progesterone – the hormone that prepares the body for pregnancy and regulates the monthly menstrual cycle – has shown to lower drug seeking behaviors. When progesterone levels fall estrogen becomes the dominant hormone, making a woman more susceptible to drug abuse. Researchers noted when people struggling with addiction are given progesterone, the hormone plays a therapeutic role in reducing smoking and cocaine use. addiction
Oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone” is a powerful hormone known to promote maternal and stress reducing behaviors. Oxytocin is released as a nursing mother bonds with her baby and during intercourse. It has also been shown to be released during hugging, helping to decrease stress hormones. In healthy relationships, oxytocin promotes bonding and trust. Therefore, in efforts to recover from addiction, healthy loving relationships are essential. Studies suggest oxytocin therapy may be helpful in reducing drug-seeking behavior and preventing relapse.
Women are encouraged to be maternal, professional, in control, feminine, and conform to idealized beauty standards. Influences of social media, with terms like “mommy needs wine” or “mommy juice” is celebrated as a way to cope with the stress of motherhood.
Instead of turning to alcohol for relief, choosing nutritious meals, making time for exercise, and spending quality time with loved ones will boost mental health, help to balance hormones, and improve overall wellness. The comparison trap social media presents is dangerous for anyone battling addiction. In seeking to find ways to cope, it is vital for women to feel loved through a positive support system.
Steps to Recovery
Acknowledgement – Recognizing and acknowledging there is a problem is the first important step to recovery.
Consideration – Considering the impact addiction has on your life, friends, and family is necessary in taking action.
Exploring Recovery Options – Consulting with friends and family can help provide needed support to move in the direction best suited to your individual needs.
Early Recovery – Learning coping skills and making changes are essential in this stage. Having a support group and other resources will help prevent relapse.
Long-term Recovery – In this stage of recovery, addicts have overcome a great deal. It is important to keep in mind that it takes a continuous life long effort to guard against relapse. Keeping a strong support system and being alert to triggers is paramount. It is a journey that requires a total transformation of mind, body, and spirit.
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation and get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists. We can help you find the resources and support you need in your journey to recovery!
About Makin Wellness :
Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .