Global Addiction Rates Among Women Are Climbing

Home > Global Addiction Rates Among Women Are Climbing

In both developing and industrialized nations women have always had lower rates of addiction than men.  And in nations wherein women’s primary roles are as caregivers and homemakers, rates of addiction among women are substantially lower than in men. The stigma of drug and alcohol use among these women is particularly severe in these regions, and women may have little control over financial resources to buy drugs and alcohol, in any case.

But as the status of women improves around the globe the gender gap surrounding addiction begins to close.  For example, between 7% and 12% of women in the U.S. are alcohol dependent, according to, about two-thirds the rate of men (20%).  In some European nations use of drugs among women is more than 70% that of men’s.  By contrast, in India, Pakistan and Indonesia, drug use among women is less than 10% of men’s.  As the citizens of fast developing countries like China move away from rural life into more affluent city life, the prevalence of drug and alcohol use among women will continue to rise.

Feminism reduced the stigma against women drinking, and access to alcohol for women has since increased, especially since the 1980s.  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 although the rates of addiction have fallen for both sexes since the 1970s and ‘80s, they have fallen less for women, effectively eliminating the gender gap.

While patronizing bars has become perfectly acceptable for women in many developed nations, the stigma against female addicts is still high. Unfortunately, the result is that women are less likely than men to seek treatment for alcoholism, according to a UN report. This is especially problematic since women are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol because of their slower metabolisms and fat-to-water-ratio.

Because addiction and mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and depression reinforce each other (i.e. you drink because you’re depressed or anxious, which only worsens the problem) access to drugs and alcohol among the affluent is especially troublesome. Fortunately, help is available for those battling both an addiction and a mental illness like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. Northbound Treatment Center offers expert dual diagnosis treatment at its rehab treatment centers focused on each patient’s unique needs.  Visit our website for more information about our treatment options.

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