Substance Abuse’s Impact on Women’s Health
Both the general population and samples of people seeking treatment have consistently shown that there are gender variations in the rates of substance misuse, with men showing noticeably greater rates of substance use, abuse, and dependence.
Recent epidemiological studies, however, indicate that this disparity between men and women has shrunk over the past few decades.
In contrast to more recent studies, which reflect a ratio of about 3:1, early 1980s surveys assessed the male/female ratio of alcohol use disorders to be 5:1.
Drug users of both genders exhibit differences in a number of areas, such as social traits, the effects of substance abuse, and the onset and progression of dependence.
Women bring special gender- and sex-based concerns to the table. Despite these distinctions, a lot of drug use therapies focus on men..
Telescoping is the term used to describe a faster transition from the start of substance use to the beginning of dependency and initial admission to treatment. Studies typically note an accelerated progression of opioid, cannabis, and alcohol use disorders in women. The phenomenon has been repeatedly noted in investigations of gender and substance-use disorders. Women typically come with a more severe clinical profile when they enter substance misuse treatment (for instance, more medical, behavioral, psychiatric, and social problems than men). Although they use the substance less frequently and for a shorter amount of time than males,
How the female body process drugs of abuse
The way that medications are absorbed, processed, and experienced by women depends on a number of biological characteristics. The following are some characteristics that may exacerbate the harmful physical consequences of substance addiction in women:
Body fat: Women are physically smaller than men, yet they tend to have more body fat. Women are more prone to store some medications in their bodies for longer periods of time than men because many pharmaceuticals are made to breakdown in lipids.
Water weight: According to recent research, when men and women of the same body weight consume the same amount of alcohol, the blood alcohol content in women is higher. This is because women’s bodies contain less water than men’s do. Women need less water to dilute alcohol and narcotics in their bodies.
Hormones: By taking medicines, the female body specifically experiences higher amounts of pleasure and pain relief. According to research, estrogen, which reduces the body’s sensitivity to pain, is directly responsible for this reaction. There are times of the month when it is more difficult to stop using drugs because of the monthly changes in hormone levels in women. Women are far more prone to relapse during menstruation, when the brain’s level of glucose is at its lowest.
Stomach Acidity: Compared to men, women have less stomach acid. Some medications can be broken down by stomach acid. Women have been observed to absorb some medications more quickly than men due to decreased stomach acidity..
Liver function: The liver processes alcohol and drugs. Men’s bodies digest these chemicals more quickly than women’s, according to gender-based study. As a result, women’s bodies and livers tend to retain drugs and alcohol for longer periods of time. This is one of the contributing factors to liver disease in women.
Kidney function: Like the liver, men’s kidneys function more quickly than women’s do. The kidneys are in charge of cleansing the body of medicines. This adds to the fact that medications stay in women’s bodies longer than they do in men’s, which putting them at greater possibility of kidney illness further down the road.
Blood proteins: Compared to men, women’s blood has a lower binding capacity, which means that its proteins can’t hold foreign compounds like illicit narcotics. They are more likely to have negative pharmacological side effects because of this incapacity.
Impact of substance abuse and addiction on women’s health
We have good reason to be concerned given what we know about how medicines affect a woman’s physiology. If your daughter, sister, friend, or significant other abuses drugs on a regular basis, be aware that there are serious risks associated.
Young and aged women are particularly susceptible to addiction and substance use problems. They are more susceptible than men to liver and heart problems, hypertension, brain damage, and mental effects depending on the substance they choose to use. Drug-using women run the risk of difficulties with pregnancy and delivery.
Below are some of the specific impacts of drugs on women’s health
Marijuana: Marijuana affects spatial memory more frequently in women than in men.
Stimulants: Women are more susceptible to the rewarding effects of stimulants like cocaine because estrogen levels in the female body make them more so. Women use cocaine faster and in higher doses than males.
Prescription drugs: Women are more prone than men to experience anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and other mental health problems. Women are more likely to take, abuse, and develop an addiction to prescription medicines like benzodiazepines or antidepressants in an effort to self-medicate.
Alcohol: Women who drink significantly or frequently have a higher risk of developing side effects such liver illness, cardiac-related diseases like hypertension, reproductive repercussions, osteoporosis, breast and other malignancies, neurological effects, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C.
Ecstasy: Negative psychoactive effects of Ecstasy, such as perceptual abnormalities, mental disruptions, and loss of body control, are more likely to affect women. Moreover, they are more prone to suffer from immediate negative effects such jaw clenching, dry mouth, and decreased appetite.
Other: Herpes, pulmonary TB, and pneumonia are more likely to strike women who use cocaine, heroin, or other injectable drugs.
Do not delay to get your loved one the assistance she needs if they are abusing or addicted to drugs. Simply by providing her the appropriate professional help, you can keep her safe from these problems.
References - https://www.turnbridge.com/news-events/latest-articles/how-do-drugs-affect-the-female-body/# - https://bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6874-4-S1-S8