Women Gaining on Men in Addictions

Holy Hormones Honey! It figures – the one area where women are making gains is in addictions.  What is really going on here is that we are not getting enough nutrients to keep our hormones balanced and our bodies functioning optimally.  Dr. Nora Volkow with The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that ‘addiction is a disease of the brain that is manageable and treatable.’ When the brain does not get the nutrients it needs – it will crave whatever it takes for it to feel good.

Another scarey component of all of this are the doctor’s diagnosis of ‘its all in your head.’ I call it the ‘Take Two Valium Honey and Go Home Syndrome.’  Sadly women become addicted to the very drugs that are prescribed to them.  Why? drugs mask symptoms they do not heal the root cause of the imbalance. Only nutrition will do that.  Abundant nutrients for abundant living.

Addiction’s shrinking gender gap

Historically, women have had lower rates of addiction than men. But empowerment can come with a steep price

addictionThe worse women have it, the better off they are. This is the lesson we might draw from looking at one (and only one) global trend: addiction. Worldwide, women have always had lower rates of drug and alcohol use and dependence than men. But as women’s access to opportunities grows along with a nation’s affluence, this gender gap begins to close. In fact, just as women often outstrip men in the classroom and office if given the chance, they have already forged ahead in the abuse of certain substances. It may not be the most celebratory way to mark International Women’s Day (March 8), but the fact is, equal rights have their penalties.

In the US about 7% to 12% of women are dependent on alcohol—about two-thirds of men’s rate (20%). This gender gap is one of the smallest in the world, exceeded only by that in some European nations, where young women’s use of drugs is over 70% of men’s. By contrast, the gap in the developing world is much larger. In India, Pakistan and Indonesia, for example, women’s drug use is less than 10% of men’s. In Brazil and Argentina, women’s use is 33% of men’s. But as economic powerhouses like India and Brazil expand their middle class, they are also likely to assume other traits of developed nations: Rates of drug and alcohol use will rise across the board—but most of all for women.

The gender gap has been shrinking since the ’70s as the stigma against women drinking (and abusing) alcohol has decreased while their access to booze has increased. Over the 20th century, smoking and drinking rates saw a gradual but steady rise among women—as women first in the upper class, next in the middle class, and finally in the lower class took up these habits. Affluence granted women more freedom and leisure time, but the rise in mass advertising of these products in after World War II also played a role.

Susan E. Foster, vice president and director of policy research and analysis at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, notes that the rates of addiction accelerated in the ‘70s and ‘80s; since then rates have fallen for both sexes, but less for women, effectively diminishing the gender gap. The great wave of feminism emerging from the cultural revolution in the late ‘60s shattered traditions restricting female social roles and liberating women to participate in the male world. They were now able to work and drink with the boys.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.