It is possible for drug-dependent women, of any age, to overcome the illness of drug addiction. Those that have been most successful have had the help and support of significant others, family members, friends, treatment providers, and the community. Women of all races and socioeconomic status suffer from the serious illness of drug addiction. And women of all races, income groups, levels of education, and types of communities need treatment for drug addiction, as they do for any other problem affecting their physical or mental health.
Many women who use drugs have faced serious challenges to their well-being during their lives. For example, research indicates that up to 70 percent of drug abusing women report histories of physical and sexual abuse. Data also indicate that women are far more likely than men to report a parental history of alcohol and drug abuse. Often, women who use drugs have low self-esteem and little self-confidence and may feel powerless. In addition, minority women may face additional cultural and language barriers that can affect or hinder their treatment and recovery.
Many drug-using women do not seek treatment because they are afraid: They fear not being able to take care of or keep their children, they fear reprisal from their spouses or boyfriends, and they fear punishment from authorities in the community. Many women report that their drug-using male sex partners initiated them into drug abuse. In addition, research indicates that drug-dependent women have great difficulty abstaining from drugs, when the lifestyle of their male partner is one that supports drug use.