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How Addiction Uniquely Impacts Women

Addiction affects every person differently based on factors like the type of substance involved, genetics, and more, but not many people realize that gender plays a role in drug and alcohol addiction, too. In 2013 alone, at least 15.8 million women used illicit drugs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Because March is Women’s History Month, The Nestled Recovery Center is taking a closer look at how addiction affects women and the unique struggles involved that men may not necessarily have to deal with.

Drugs Can Disrupt Menstruation

Some illicit drugs are known to affect women’s menstrual cycles by interfering with hormone levels, and some can even stop ovulation altogether. On another note, a woman’s menstrual cycle can stop when she becomes malnourished as a side effect of addiction.

Some drugs that have been known to interfere with menstruation include:

  • Cocaine: Cocaine abuse has been known to disrupt the menstrual cycle, and prolonged abuse can even cause damage to the fallopian tubes, which can create difficulties in having children later in life.
  • Opioids: Chronic heroin use is known to lead to irregular periods, and other powerful opioids can make your periods heavier. Examples of commonly-abused opioids include prescription painkillers as well as synthetic opioids, like heroin.
  • Alcohol: Some studies show that alcoholism can cause menstrual cycle disruptions, irregular periods, and changes in sex hormone levels.

While long-term addiction can damage any person’s organs, it can prevent a woman from being able to give birth.

Pregnant Women with Addictions Face Stigma

Women are especially scrutinized by the public when they become pregnant or after giving birth, and any wrong move puts them at risk of being labeled a bad mother. As a result, women who are dealing with addiction while pregnant may be more shamed than others and labeled as unfit to become a mother or even a child abuser. Stigma is a major reason why some people don’t seek professional help for addiction—they feel too ashamed to reach out.

A Woman’s Biology Makes Her More Susceptible to Addiction

Thanks to biology, science has shown that women become addicted to drugs after using smaller doses and for shorter periods of time than men. Along this same vein, the presence of sex hormones generally makes women more sensitive to the effects of some drugs, and they’re also more likely to die from an overdose than men are.

Trauma-Related Addiction Is More Likely to Impact Women

Addiction is often closely tied to mental health disorders—nearly 9 million individuals have co-occurring disorders that exacerbate each other. According to the American Psychological Association, women are twice as likely to develop PTSD and display more sensitivity to stimuli than men. This places them at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder or addiction as a way to cope with triggers and traumatic memories associated with things like domestic violence and sexual abuse.

And, of course, substance abuse can lead to other consequences that are unique to women, such as an increased risk of developing breast cancer as well as contributing to fetal alcohol disorders (FASDs) or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). If you’re a woman struggling with addiction and can relate to some of these unique issues, we’re here to listen to your story and offer you options.

Call Us for Customized Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas

The Nestled Recovery Center provides an intimate environment for individuals to heal in. Our ten-bed maximum facility allows us to give you the individualized care you deserve because we know that every patient’s relationship to drugs and alcohol is unique. If you’re addicted to alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, or more and require detoxification, our medical detox program can be catered to your needs and our own medical director can prescribe tapers or medications to help manage your withdrawal symptoms in a safe and effective way.

Struggling with addiction in Las Vegas? You deserve high-quality treatment services that only a high-end facility like The Nestled Recovery Center can provide. Learn more about our team by calling us at (702) 299-6406, or by filling out our online form.

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