Frequently Asked Questions

What you should know about addiction and recovery.

Are Some Women More Likely to Abuse Alcohol and Drugs?

YES. Who?

  • Women who are depressed
  • Women who are isolated from other family, friends, and other people
  • Women who have experienced rape or sexual assault or physical assault as a child or adult
  • Women who feel bad about themselves
  • Women whose parents had problems with drugs and alcohol
  • Women who have a husband or boyfriend or partner who abuses drugs and alcohol
  • Women who feel disconnected from others or have suffered great losses (like death of a family member, loss of a job, break-up of a relationship or marriage, loss of their health, loss of their house)
  • Women who tried or experimented with drugs or alcohol when they were young


Are Women Different than Men in their Use of Substances?  

  • Women are more likely to use legal drugs, such as alcohol or prescription drugs
  • Women are more likely to get their alcohol and drugs from friends, boyfriends, family, or doctors than from dealers
  • Women are more likely to use many substances, rather than just one, like alcohol
  • Women use in isolation, by themselves, at home more than men
  • Women often begin to drink or use alcohol and drugs after a traumatic event, like rape, battering, accident, loss of their house in a fire or hurricane
  • Women are more likely to be in a relationship with a partner who uses drugs and alcohol too
  • Because women have the primary responsibility for the children and the household, their addiction can cause more family disruption
  • Women are more likely to be discouraged about getting treatment by family members
  • Women have more problems with depression, anxiety, and changing moods
  • Women have higher levels of shame and guilt about their addiction
  • Women have more problems with feeling good about their bodies
  • Women have lower expectations for what is possible for them in life


How Many Women Use Alcohol and Drugs?

  • At least 4.5 million women are alcohol abusers or alcoholics;
  • 3.1 million regularly use illicit drugs (like marijuana, cocaine, street drugs);
  • 3.5 million misuse prescription drugs (Reid 1996)
  • 4% of pregnant women age 15 to 44 reported illicit drug use during the past month, 4.5% engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks on same occasion in 1 day), and 18% smoked cigarettes
  • (Based on data from SAMHSA’s 2002-04 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health)


What are the signs that you might have a problem with Alcohol or Drugs?

  • You need more of it to get high
  • You  use more of the drug/alcohol than you said you would
  • You have tried to cut down or stop drinking or using and have not been able to
  • You spent a lot of time getting your drinks/drugs, using them, and recovering from them
  • You begin to give up certain social or work or family activities because of your use
  • Friends and family say something to you about your use


You continue to use your alcohol or drugs despite bad consequences, like

  • Having a car accident while using
  • Developing health problems related to use
  • Using while you are pregnant
  • Breaking the law to get money to buy drugs/alcohol
  • Using when it makes you late to work or school
  • Getting fired from work because of your use
  • Having unprotected sex when you use
  • Using while taking care of your children
  • Lying to family members to hide your use