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National Institute on Drug Abuse

Women and Drug Abuse



Women can have special
risk factors for
drug abuse.

Women can have special risk factors for drug abuse

also, women can become addicted quickly to certain drugs, such as crack cocaine. therefore, by the time they seek help, their addiction may be difficult to treat.

Women who use drugs often suffer from other serious health problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental health problems, such as depression.

Many women who use drugs have had troubled lives. Studies have found that at least 70 percent of women drug users have been sexually abused by the age of 16. Most of these women had at least one parent who abused alcohol or drugs.

Often, women who use drugs have low self-esteem, little self-confidence, and feel powerless. They often feel lonely and are isolated from support networks.

Women from certain cultural backgrounds or who have difficulty with the English language may not know how to find help for their addiction.


Drug use is a serious health problem

Drug Use is a
Serious Health Problem


Women who use drugs risk becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The virus can be spread through needles used to inject drugs. Therefore, women who inject drugs and share needles are especially at risk.

The AIDS virus is also spread through sexual contact. Women who have sex with men who inject drugs are at great risk. Between 1990 and 1991, AIDS cases among women rose 17 percent. Today, almost 70 percent of AIDS cases in women are related to either injecting drugs or having sex with a man who injects drugs.

AIDS is now the fourth leading cause of death among women

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