Survey: More than 50% of women sought treatment for prescription drugs, heroin | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

Survey: More than 50% of women sought treatment for prescription drugs, heroin

March 5, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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Heroin and prescription drug addiction are on the rise among affluent women, reveals a new survey from Caron Treatment Centers, a non-profit provider of alcohol and drug addiction treatment.

The online survey polled former female patients at Caron and Hanley Center who were treated for addiction. The survey was conducted to better understand what motivated the women to seek treatment. Respondents cited alcohol and prescription drugs as the leading legal causes for seeking treatment. The majority (70%) of female respondents who abused prescription drugs said they were initially prescribed the medication legally for an emotional or physical ailment.

More than half (55%) of the respondents who entered treatment for an addiction to illegal drugs were abusing heroin, which experts at Caron and Hanley confirm is a primary illegal drug of choice for female patients. Women cited anxiety (65%), depression (67%), and a critical internal voice (69%) as significant factors that contributed to their addiction. Although a majority of the women polled were married with children, they were most likely to abuse alcohol or drugs when they were alone.

“Addiction impacts individuals and families from all walks of life,” said Michelle Maloney, Executive Director of Treatment Services at Hanley Center, a Caron Treatment Center. “Female addicts often experience a lot of shame about using alcohol and drugs. They often feel they are the only ones with these problems. But we want them to know they are not alone. There are millions of women in recovery and all women deserve to get the help they need to live a healthy and productive life.”

Additional notable statistics from the survey include:

  • 65% of respondents were between the ages of 36-55 when they entered treatment.
  • 61% of respondents had a household income of $100,000 or more when they entered treatment; 52.6% have children
  • 90% of respondents used alcohol and drugs to cope with stress
  • Top three stressors were relationships with their parents, siblings (63%), romantic relationships (60%) and work (49%).  
  • 74% said they kept up personal hygiene and appearance, 66% were social with friends and family, and 61% held a job during their active addiction; 50% cared for children and 40% volunteered for the PTA.


The survey was conducted in January and February 2014 among 102 former patients within the Caron Treatment Centers continuum.