Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol Awareness Month was created to “increase awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues”. Sanford House founder, Rae Green kicked off our “Alcohol Awareness Lecture Series” yesterday at Spectrum Health Grand Rapids, with her talk on “Women and Addiction“.
Rae spoke about the fact that age, socio-economic backgrounds and biology all affect the way women process addictive substances. She also addressed the need for gender-specific treatment plans to manage the particular pathology and patterns of addiction in women. Thanks to Spectrum Health Grand Rapids; “Women and Addiction” attendees; and our host Clinical Educator, Annette Lockwood for the warm welcome.
Statistics on Women and Addiction
- 5.8 million women are alcoholic or alcohol abusers in the U.S.
- 3.5 million women misuse prescription drugs
- Women are more likely to be binge drinkers than men
- Women with university degrees are almost twice as likely to drink as those without
- In the U.S. a woman is 50% more likely to walk out of a doctor’s office with a prescription for a controlled substance as a man
- Among 12 to 17 year old children, females surpass males in the use of cigarettes, cocaine, crack, inhalants and prescription drugs for non-medical reasons
- Alcohol is involved in 9 out of 10 campus rapes
- CDC studies show that 5.5% of women use illicit drugs while pregnant
- Women become addicted more quickly than men
- Women develop substance abuse related diseases sooner than men
- Pound for pound, women have more body fat and less water to dilute alcohol than men
- Women feel the effects of alcohol sooner than a man
- Women blackout more than men
- Alcohol is linked to 70% of domestic violence incidents
- Substance abuse and addiction are the primary causes of the dramatic rise in child abuse and neglect in the U.S.
- Almost 60% of women in New York prisons are incarcerated for drug offenses (32% for men)
- Women in addiction treatment are less likely to relapse than men in treatment
- There is a higher death rate for female substance abusers than men
- Women absorb 30% more alcohol than men and metabolize substances slower – toxins stay in the body longer causing more damage
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women – women who drink more that 4 alcoholic drinks a day quadruple risk of heart disease
- Women suffer liver damage sooner than men
- Women are more susceptible to substance abuse related breast cancer
- Women make up 1/3 of all those addicted to alcohol and 1/2 of those addicted to drugs
- Twice as many women as men have a dual-diagnosis (addiction together with depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, etc.)
- Women are 70% more likely to experience depression as men and depressed women are 6 times more likely to develop alcoholism.
By every quantitative measure, women are drinking more each year and bingeing more each year. In the past decade, more women have been charged with drunk driving; women are more frequently measured with high concentrations of alcohol in their blood streams at car accident scenes; more women are being treated for dangerous intoxication in emergency rooms and women consumers are driving the steady growth of wine sales.
This is Alcohol Awareness Month, and our charge is to “increase awareness and understanding, reduce the stigma” and educate the community about alcohol related issues. As a women’s only addiction treatment facility, we feel our best effort is in educating the community about the special needs of women and in so doing, we give a voice to the 6 million women in the U.S. who suffer from the disease of addiction.