Drug abuse in women has increased throughout the years. There are many reasons why women, especially young women, turn to substance abuse.

Women that are less than 22 years old are categorized as young women. During these years, they are developing both physically and mentally. Also, they are developing a sense of self-worth, especially during their adolescent years. Unfortunately, we are seeing drug abuse in many young women. It’s sad to see such potential lost to years of struggles with addiction.

Drug abuse in women

Young adulthood and adolescent years are times of great susceptibility. When young women are transitioning into adults, they experience physical changes and social pressures. A recent study indicates women are more prone to initiate drug or alcohol addiction during these crucial years.

This could be due to the stress and pressures they experience their transitional period into later adulthood. There are some things we know about how the addictions may have started. There are some common causes of drug or alcohol abuse in women.

What makes young women turn to addiction?

1.  Low Self-Esteem

Body image and the social image is usually the topmost concern of high school girls. Many of them can face low self-esteem or confidence due to this low body image. Moreover, overweight and underweight girls may experience less self-worth because they associate the skinny friend with having a perfect figure with beauty and popularity.

Moreover, drug abuse in young women can be associated with being cool and sexy. And many of them abuse drugs or alcohol, assuming that these are the solutions to other problems involving self-worth.

Teenage girls with low confidence are twice as likely as those with higher self-confidence to use drugs. Moreover, high school girls are more likely to use alcohol and drugs in order to cope with their weight-related issues.

2. Academic Pressure

Substance abuse in women can be due to great academic pressure during their time in high school. Securing admissions in colleges depends on the academic performance they show at high schools. Thus, at high school, the competition to excel is high, and students are introduced to new and advanced levels of learning.

Therefore, academic pressure and substance abuse can easily interlink. Teen girls who struggle with achieving higher grades are at more risk of drug abuse than those who get A’s and B’s.

3.  Social Pressures

Many girls tend to use drugs due to social pressure. They do so to fit in their peers who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. A study indicates that popular teenage girls have more social pressure to smoke, drink, and use drugs.

Thus, the more friends a young girl has who smoke, drink, and abuse drugs, the more likely she is to become an addict. For instance, if five of her friends abuse alcohol or drugs, she is over seven times more inclined to drink under social pressure.

4. Abiding by the Culture

The world goes on modernizing, and people are raising their voices to cultural opinions and shallow thoughts deeply induced in societies. Still, many elders keep on injecting the same things into young people and force them to become something they aren’t or can’t be.



Often girls are taught to be polite and gentle. They are supposed to be mannered and disciplined, according to many parents. But when a teen girl can’t seem to fit into these specifications of their parents or the society, they take to drugs.

When an adolescent girl comes home after a tiring day of study and work, she needs the comfort and warmth of the home to relieve all her insecurities. But if she’s assailed with comments about her body, actions, body language, and manners, she won’t feel safe and may find a peaceful place for herself in pills or other substances.

5. Relieving Pain

Studies tell us that women and girls are subject to more pain than what men feel. They feel more pain and for more extended periods. As the discomfort that they encounter is longlasting, they are put on medications for longer periods of time.

As a consequence, drug abuse can develop causing young women to become unable to live without these prescriptions, especially when it comes to narcotics. If they don’t recover, they can get hooked with other drugs of even more severity.

A woman has different kinds of pains, and for some, these problems don’t last for too long, but for others, they are struck with chronic illnesses. It is best to look for other methods to relieve such pains if there is a chance of addiction to medication. Any natural remedies cut down on the risk of drug addiction.

6.  Depression and Mental Illness

Depression is common among adolescent girls these days. Many young girls experience sadness and hopelessness on a regular basis. These girls are more likely than boys to consider or attempt suicide due to depression.



Women have less tolerance for depression as compared to men, and thus they are more vulnerable to use drugs in order to cope with depression.

Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that should be treated by a professional instead of numbed by illegal drugs. Self-medication with drugs increases the risk of drug addiction. Young girls who suffer from regular depression and have become addicted to alcohol should seek outpatient treatment from a rehabilitation center.

7. Experiencing Trauma

In addition to social and cultural pressures, a girl may experience grave trauma that is of a higher level than what men have to go through. This trauma can come from any aspect of her life. It can be due to mistreatment or daunting criticisms by society.

The trauma that a woman suffers from in her early or ongoing life can haunt her even in the later years, leaving her no option but drugs to confide in. If she doesn’t get proper support and outlets for her trauma, she is very likely to become an addict.

8. Extreme Dependence

The tolerance level of a female is relatively a lot lower than a male’s ability. Although men have an overall increase in becoming addicted to drugs, women are more likely to become addicted to drugs after the initial intake. As they can’t tolerate much, they can start to abuse quickly and become addicted.

It has also been seen that girls have a more severe addiction to drugs as well.  Often teen girls go with their friends to parties where they come across drinking and drugs and unknowingly become addicted after a few intakes. As teenage girls are naïve, they are more prone to addiction and abuse.

How can we help women with drug addiction?

Drug abuse in women isn’t studied as much as it should be. The most prevalent area of drug addiction for young women would be in prescribing medications. Coming from a personal standpoint, I was addicted to pills in my twenties. Without the help of my family, I might not have made it.

Now, my addiction wasn’t as bad as some, but I noticed how I started to take pills with the excuse that I was in pain, but I was only in enough pain for an over-the-counter product. Instead, I opted for an expired narcotic from the previous surgery.

You see, any young women are susceptible to drug abuse, and have a higher risk of relapse, liver damage, and long-term addiction. We must always take good care of the young women in our lives and pay attention to what they are doing. Substance abuse in women is more common than you think.

Just keep your eyes open, and let’s all be willing to help.

Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

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