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Five warning signs of adult female substance abuse

August 8, 2012
by Dennis Grantham
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Women who have to "keep it together" for others sometimes fall apart themselves.

Substance abuse is on the rise among adult women. The National Institute of Health highlights that female alcoholics have death rates of 50-100 percent higher than those of male alcoholics. Additionally, women are more likely to be prescribed abusable prescription drugs, like an anti-anxiety medication.

According to Hanley Center (West Palm Beach, Fla.), the rise in addiction among adult women is indicative of the increasing societal pressures that women face as they transition through various life stages. When stressors such as career pressures and new parenthood become unmanageable, women may turn to prescription medication or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

"There is a misconception that women don't need guidance and support once they've entered adulthood," said Sarah Gentry, Clinical Director of Women's Treatment Services at Hanley Center. "Most often, women are expected to be the backbone of their family unit, caring and nurturing their loved ones while neglecting their own needs. This creates a tremendous amount of pressure. To combat their helplessness, anxiety and worry, we're seeing more women abuse prescription drugs and alcohol."

According to Gentry, signs and symptoms of substance abuse or addiction may include:

·        Forgetfulness: a consistent inability to remember significant details or past activities and conversations.

·        Changes In mood: unordinary, yet ongoing change in disposition including irregular irritability, anger and depression, with a lack of interest in important relationships.

·        Change in physical appearance: a noticeable lack of interest in personal hygiene and appearance.

·        Loss of time: a disappearance for several hours or days without notifying family and friends.

·        Inability to control drinking in social situations: attending social events leads to excessive drinking or daily activities are planned around drinking.

"Unfortunately, it's become an accepted social norm for women to commiserate over cocktails and calm their fears with anti-anxiety medication," commented Gentry. "The result is that many women are unable to recognize the difference between moderation and abuse. Family and friends play an important role in recognizing and preventing addiction - they are often the first to see the signs and symptoms of overuse."