Research relating to addiction is often focused on men, primarily because earlier researchers generally assumed that addiction was mostly a male problem or that women with drug addiction have the same experiences as men have. However, there are significant environmental and biological factors; an addiction in women is so significantly different that it affects the way their treatment is approached. Not only is the approach to addiction treatment different for women than in men, but the signs of addiction in women may also be different. Here are some of the signs of drug addiction in women.
Physical Signs of Drug Addiction in Women
It’s important to note that drug addiction can affect women from all walks of life. The first step to identifying if a female in your life has an addiction problem is though physical signs. If you notice any of the following signs, it’s essential that ask them straightforward questions, including “are you using drugs”? If you suspect a drug addiction, it’s important to encourage them to seek addiction treatment immediately. Physical signs of an addiction to drugs may include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dilated or pinpoint pupils
- Sudden weight changes, either weight gain or weight loss
- Difficulty walking, tremors and/or slurred speech
- Overly energetic, increased alertness or hyperactivity
- Change in sleep patterns
- Marks on the skin
- Frequent picking at or itching of the skin
Behavioral Signs of Drug Addiction in Women
If you haven’t witnessed the person in question using drugs or you have seen the physical signs of addiction, but you still suspect drug abuse, there are behavioral changes that may indicate addiction. It is important, however, to keep in mind that everyone’s behaviors often change for different reasons. For instance, the behaviors of a teenage girl may change as they transfer into adulthood. With that said, drug addiction can cause a wide range of behavioral changes in women, including:
- Lack of motivation at work, school or home
- Decrease in concern for personal hygiene and appearance
- Increase in impulsive risks
- Frequently borrowing money without an explanation
- Changes and/or problems in relationships
- Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Withdrawing from social circles, friends, and family
- Unexplained accidents, isolation or secrecy
- Avoiding conversations and hiding things
Psychological Signs of Drug Addiction in Women
Teenage girls are notorious for their moodiness and personality changes, but extreme changes in their demeanor is often a sign of drug or alcohol use, especially in adult females. Many of the psychological signs of drug addiction are short-term, but with ongoing use, it can lead to long-term emotional and mental effects in women. Some of the common psychological signs of addiction in women may include:
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Increased confusion
- Concentration difficulties
- Short-term memory is diminished
- Increased aggressiveness, hostility and belligerence
- Sudden symptoms of a co-occurring disorder, such as depression, anxiety or paranoia
- Loss of control
- Compulsive drug cravings
- Inability to stop drug use due to psychological dependence
Studies have shown that women are more prone to developing a drug addiction through less use of the drug than men. Women also tend to experience more social consequences, and they have a more difficult time quitting as well as a higher risk of relapse. This is due in part to the way women respond to stress. Women are also more likely than men to relapse into drug use in response to stress triggers. Unfortunately, women are also less likely to seek addiction treatment. The reason for this is because there is much more stigma attached to women and substance abuse. There is addiction treatment available that is designed specifically for women, which treats both the addiction as well as any co-occurring disorders. If you know a female that is suffering with drug addiction, it is essential for their life to encourage them to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Nearly 20 million Americans, ages 12 and older, struggle with substance abuse, and an estimated 8.5 million of that number (nearly half) also have a mental health disorder. Statistically, women are different when it comes to substance abuse. A woman can take a lower dose of a drug over a shorter time period and become addicted, compared to a man. Their physical and psychological reaction can also be different, with more cravings and a higher likelihood of relapse. But, women are also more sensitive and can be adversely affected by drugs much sooner and at a more serious level in relation to effects to the heart. It’s probably not surprising, then, that women are more likely to suffer from overdose and end up in the emergency room. Approximately 5.2% of women have a substance abuse problem.
What is Women’s Only Rehab? A Brief History
The idea of a Women’s Only Rehab center is not new to addiction treatment. The push toward a better understanding of how substance abuse affects women can be linked to the women’s rights movement in the 1970s, but there was also a drive to recognize how the care for women with substance abuse problems might be different. It’s tied with the drive to understand what social differences and how employment, family, and health are treated differently (with inequality).
Trauma and other stressors can also contribute to panic attacks, depression, and anxiety. One-in-four women are also affected by domestic violence and abuse, which also puts them at a higher risk of turning to alcohol or drugs for coping. Fear and pain are at the core of the substance abuse experience of many women. The idea behind Women’s only (or gender-sensitive) addiction treatment centers around the considerations of the experience of women is different both from a substance abuse point of view, but also in the process of rehab, addiction treatment and their road to recovery.
How is Treatment Different?
Addiction treatment includes many of the same components, but women’s only treatment may focus more heavily on some elements. The goal is to help women work through substance abuse, mental health conditions, as well as other treatment needs. It’s typically a multidisciplinary approach, with a focus on one-and-one support and counseling, mental health treatment, and behavior therapy to address those lifestyle habits and emotional concerns, as well as long-term aftercare support. Women’s only treatment can also incorporate naltrexone to ease cravings, as well as detox, therapy, and social support.
What Additional Considerations Do Women Face?
Women face additional obstacles both in the home and in society, which may make them less likely to seek addiction treatment and rehab. Women tend to be the primary care-giver, so they may feel like they can’t take time off to recover. Women are also more likely to have experienced traumatic events that affected them deeply. Among women who are experiencing substance abuse issues, they also deal with anxiety, depression, cravings, and eating disorders. Addiction treatment will affect women differently, but it can take a lot more for a woman to seek help.
Find a Woman’s Only Rehab Center: Newport Beach Recovery
The good news is that you’re not alone. There are women’s only programs to meet your specific treatment needs. At Newport Beach Recovery, we’re here to offer targeted addiction treatment and care in Costa Mesa, CA. We’re a gender-specific treatment center, so you can find the care and support you need to face your unique challenges. You can break free from addiction in a relaxing and healing setting with an ocean view.
Drugs such as Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin are often prescribed for conditions like anxiety and insomnia. These drugs are part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, or more commonly Benzos. These drugs are often prescribed along with opioids and are only often just as responsible for addictions. In fact, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported that thirty percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve Benzos. The two drugs alone are highly addictive and when combined they can be a very deadly combination. Use, and abuse, of Benzos, has increased over the past several years in every age group but the most affected group is women, who have prescribed this class of drug at a rate twice that of men.
Why Women Become Addicted to Benzos
Most addictions to Benzos start out as the woman being prescribed the medication when she goes to the doctor and complains of anxiety attacks or stress-related insomnia. Women are often more willing to express these things to a doctor. Today’s women are often caretakers to both children and aging parents. They take on many responsibilities and are not as willing to take time for themselves to relax. They worry about the people under their care and forget to care for themselves.
Benzos were meant to be a short-term solution to problems such as anxiety and insomnia but many doctors will prescribe them over a long period of time because they understand the conditions causing the stress in a woman’s life are not always ones that disappear. Women become addicted easier than men because their body weight is lower and chemical changes within their bodies occur more frequently. It becomes easy to rely on the medication to unwind and get a good night’s sleep after a day of worry and stress. When waking up has the woman facing the same stressors, another dose will help her get through the day. The body builds a tolerance to Benzos quickly and larger doses are increasingly required in order to relax.
Signs of Benzo Addiction
Anyone, not just women is at risk of addiction. The fact that women are prescribed Benzos at twice the rate of men accounts in part for the increased number of addictions to Benzos we see in women. Because they are prescribed, and only a small number of women turn to illegal means of obtaining them, the signs of addiction often go unnoticed. Some of these signs include:
*An increased need for the medication to get through the day. Feeling you can’t get through the day without it.
*Immediately reaching for your prescription when you anticipate a stressful situation.
*Having to change brands (say from Valium to Xanax) because a former prescription doesn’t seem to work any longer.
*An inner knowing that tells you it is time to get help.
Rehab for Benzo addiction must not only address the physical drug addiction but also the underlying condition that put the woman at risk to start with. While the causes of extreme stress can’t always be eliminated, learning how to deal with these situations is important. In addition to counseling, both individual and group, and possibly even family counseling, learning positive coping skills is necessary. These include learning ways you can relax, methods for taking care of your own needs, and overall skills for relaxation and stress management. Often this is best done on an inpatient basis as it allows you to put aside other responsibilities and concentrate on getting well.
Many women feel they don’t have time to devote to recovery. They are afraid that their family or job will be lost without them. It is essential to realize that if you fall apart, you can’t do your best for others. There is a good reason for airlines to caution parents to put on their own air masks first during an emergency. If you aren’t functioning, you can’t be there for others. Newport Beach recovery has experience helping women like you and your loved ones overcome their Benzo addictions. Contact us today and start on your road to recovery now. Tomorrow will dawn brighter and see a stronger you ready to face whatever may come from a place of empowerment.