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Family Guidance Blog

Women Strive to do it All, and Turn to Substance Abuse to Cope

Women have come a long way in terms of opportunity and open doors. But sometimes women find that trying to take advantage of every opportunity stretches them too thin. Many times, they want to give the appearance that everything they’re excelling at is falling neatly into place.  Sometimes, the pursuit of “doing it all” can lead to substance abuse behind closed doors.

Many women today are striving to live up to media and sitcom images, believing they should be the perfect mom, the perfect wife and the perfect boss/employee. The plates are spinning and it can be hard to know when to put them down. Some start using alcohol (or drugs) just to unwind. Before long, they are using substances just to cope.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse around 800,000 adult women started abusing prescription drugs this past year. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that 5.3 million women in this country abuse alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse is not a problem experienced only by men and teenagers; it has taken root among the mothers as well.

One treatment facility reported that of 100 surveyed former patients who were women, 44 percent had abused prescription drugs and 88 percent had done the same with alcohol. A shocking 60 percent of those who’d been treated for a problem with alcohol reported having driven a car while they were intoxicated, not just once or twice – but on a weekly basis.

Apart from the frightening danger of mothers who are driving kids to soccer and piano practice under the influence of substances, there’s the sad reality for children of being unsure what to expect from mom today. Mothers think they are successfully hiding behind the mask of perfectionism, but they would be surprised how many people see right through it.

If you are a woman who is trying to have it all but finding the pressure a bit crushing, think about how you are coping with the stress. If you find yourself craving something to help you manage, if you can’t stop using once you start or if you spend time planning for the next time you can use a substance, it’s time to contact Family Guidance Center to get some needed help.

Addressing Issues of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

It’s not uncommon for substance abuse and mental illness to exist together. Drugs and alcohol are often used as a coping mechanism to deal with the symptoms of mental disorders, especially before affected individuals receive a diagnosis and don’t understand why they are feeling a certain way. Other times, substance abuse can lead to depression or anxiety when things start to deteriorate at home, work, or school because of the effects of drugs or alcohol.

Coping with either substance abuse or mental illness alone can be difficult. Confronting both disorders presents other unique challenges. Per figures from NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, up to half of all people affected by severe mental illness abuse alcohol or drugs. NAMI also estimates that nearly 30 percent of all individuals diagnosed with a mental disorder will engage in substance abuse.

Research shows that individuals living with both drug addiction and mental illness have a greater chance of relapsing and developing more serious mental health conditions. Additionally, symptoms of mental health disorders often worsen with continued substance use. This may be due to interactions between the alcohol or drugs and required medications. Or, it could be the result of irregular or discontinued use of prescribed medications.

Treating co-existing disorders requires a combined approach addressing issues of both substance abuse and mental illness. Per information from SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, effective treatment for both conditions should:

1. Help affected individuals set short and long term recovery goals
2. Connect participants with support networks and employment services that will aid in recovery
3. Educate regarding the impact and role of substance abuse in one’s life
4. Provide therapy designed with both disorders in mind.

It is possible for individuals living with co-occurring disorders to live a normal, healthy, and productive life. Family Guidance Center can help. Family Guidance works within the community to offer mental health and addiction treatment services for lasting recovery. To learn more, visit our website at https://fgcnow.org/.