womens health and addiction

Addiction and Womens’ Health: What You Need to Know

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Though men are more likely to become a person with a substance use disorder, the truth is that it can (and does) occur with women. In fact, it is becoming more and more common among women. This can be very dangerous on a woman. A substance use disorder can wreak havoc on her health.

So, what can addiction do to a woman’s body? 

Women are more likely to develop liver problems due to alcohol and drug use. It takes women less time and alcohol to find themselves struggling with alcohol-induced liver disease. This condition, if left untreated (or failing to stop drinking), will lead to liver failure and death.

Brain damage also happens faster. By continuing to drink alcohol and abuse drugs, women find themselves struggling with their mental function. In fact, their brain may decrease and the cells in their brain may work differently than they should.

Along with heart diseaseHeavy drinkers are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, otherwise known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Their heart muscles actually get thinner and weaken due to their substance use disorder. Prolonged abuse will eventually lead to heart failure and death.

Cancer is common with those who suffer from a substance use disorder. Heavy drinking can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It can also increase their risk of other types of cancer, including their head, neck, and digestive track.

Women who have a substance use disorder are more likely to overdose. Studies have shown that women are being prescribed pain relievers more often. They are more likely to visit their doctors about their chronic pain and find themselves taking medications daily for pain, anxiety, sleep, and other mental conditions.

Substance use disorder can be very dangerous during pregnancy. If a father is suffering from a substance use disorder, the fetus can be affected, but not in the way that it can when the mother uses alcohol and drugs. That directly affects the baby because he or she will absorb these substances directly from the mother.

This often leads to birth defects and other problems that may harm a baby throughout his or her life. Not only will these babies have mental and physical ailments throughout their life, they often go through withdrawal symptoms when they are born.

Do women need special treatments when they are struggling with a substance use disorder? 

  • Women and men are completely different, so it is important that the treatment is tailored to a woman.
  • Treatments for men do not always work on women because they face different challenges. They seek alcohol and drugs for different reasons and those reasons need to be taken into account when working on a woman’s recovery.
  • There are many programs that are specially designed for women. They take into account their biological differences, life circumstances, and other factors. Treatment often includes dealing with the reasons behind the addiction, such as other disorders or trauma.

So, what can we do for a woman who is struggling with a substance use disorder? 

If you know a woman who is struggling with a substance use disorder (or you are the one struggling), it is time to get help. First Steps Recovery is an addiction treatment center that offers high quality care for people in Central California. We are located in Fresno California, and we will help you (or your loved one) get through this difficult time.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today at 844-489-0836. We want you (or your loved one) to succeed, and we will tailor a program for you to make sure that you have the success that you need to get through this.



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