Women and Substance Abuse - December 2001

Denver Women's Commission
Women and Substance Abuse - December 2001

December 15, 2001
Prepared by Chaer Robert
For Zenith Magazine

Women and Substance Abuse

Addiction is a formidable challenge. Some women deal with their own addiction; some deal with the impact of others’ substance abuse:

Alcohol – Women metabolize alcohol differently, get drunk faster, become addicted more easily and develop cirrhosis of the liver more readily. Women die an average of 15 years sooner than men from alcohol abuse. In sexual abuse cases, in 60% of the perpetrators had been drinking.

Drugs – Women often describe the onset of drug use as sudden and heavy, rather than gradual. Often it follows a specific traumatic event. One-third of the women serving time in Colorado prison are there for drug offenses (versus 19% of male inmates.). In 59% of the cases, she is there for possession and use versus selling or making.

Substance Abuse – Of domestic violence victims, 78% report drug or alcohol abuse by their assailants. In Colorado, 24473 grandparents—mostly grandmothers-- are raising their grandchildren. One of the most common reasons is substance abuse by the parents. While 90% of men leave a substance abusing woman, 90% of women stay with a substance abusing man.

Substance abuse can be treated. The success rate is comparable to other chronic relapsing diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Colorado is one of 3 states that does not offer substance abuse treatment through Medicaid. For every $100. spent on programs that address the wreckage of substance abuse in Colorado in 1998, only 6 cents was spent on prevention, treatment and research. Colorado ranked 50th –last among states.