Facing Opioid Crisis Head On: Are Women at a Higher Risk of Addiction?
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The existence and severity of opioid crisis cannot be denied, as states the National Institute of Drug Abuse. However, women are not at a higher risk of addiction in general. The bad news is that addiction is an ‘equal opportunity disease’. Historically, the number of men suffering from substance abuse was higher. But today the numbers are nearly the same. So, while women aren’t at a greater risk by default, they definitely seem to succumb to addiction in greater numbers nowadays.
Assessing the Risk of Addiction: Differences Between Women and Men
While gender equality is something we should all strive for, it’s true that men and women are rather different on the biological level. These differences are a major factor for understanding how addiction develops and progresses in an individual.
Women’s bodies process drugs differently and react to them as well. The differences in drugs also play an important part in determining the risk of addiction for women. For example, female bodies break down alcohol less effectively and store it longer due to having more fat tissue. This means that a woman needs to consume less alcohol to get drunk, thus the rates of consumption are higher among men.
On the other hand, women are more sensitive to pain and more often develop conditions that cause chronic pain. That’s why they are prescribed opioid painkillers more often. Up to 29% of people prescribed these medications misuse them and many of them progress to serious substance abuse.
National Institute of Drug Abuse provides a detailed breakdown of stats and facts on Substance Use in Women. Take your time to study it and materials referenced in that text to learn about how a female body reacts to any kind of drug compared to male.
Is It Possible to Reduce the Risk of Addiction in Women?
It’s possible to reduce the risk of developing an addiction in anyone if one is determined to make some lifestyle changes. First, one has to get treatment for their substance abuse in case they already have this problem. The least stressful way to do that is to get help from a specialized treatment facility. The Recovery Village in Ohio and other states provide personalized treatment plans, which is a great option because they make sure every person gets the exact help they need.
If you/your loved one don’t have a substance abuse problem or its acute form has already been dealt with, you can reduce the risks of relapse or addiction development by:
Getting counseling during times of transition.
The risk of addiction increases during the times of changes. That’s why teenagers are the highest risk group for drug abuse. Major changes you’ll face in adult life include moving, changing jobs, divorce or marriage.
Eliminate peer pressure.
Peer pressure is an issue not only teens face. If your current company is driving you or your loved one off the ‘straight and narrow’ and you feel the impending risk of addiction, break ties immediately. A complete break will be most effective, but not always possible in complex social situations. Again, it would be best to seek advice from a counselor to determine the most effective way of dealing with this problem.
Get healthy hobbies.
To reduce the risk of addiction to the minimum you shouldn’t give yourself an opportunity to develop it. Make sure your life is busy with healthy activities and the pull of drugs will gradually vane. Active hobbies, like exercise, hiking, extreme sports, etc. are particularly beneficial for this. Afterall, the body on heroin does not function very efficiently.