“The book provides a comprehensive assessment of alcohol problems among adolescents and young adults, and it enhances our fund of information concerning the diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately prevention of alcohol problems in this vulnerable population.”
– As reviewed in N Engl J Med 2006; 354:2299-2300“You know you have a problem long before you seek a solution to it. You think you can master it yourself, you think you can stave it off with either abstinence or strong will, or quite frankly, pacts with God…”
– Jamie Lee Curtis, actress and recovering substance abuser
The pages of this empowering resource reveal that, compared to boys and men, girls and women become addicted to alcohol, nicotine, and illegal and prescription drugs at lower levels of use and in shorter periods of time, develop substance related diseases like lung cancer more quickly, suffer more severe brain damage from alcohol and drugs like Ecstasy, and often pay the ultimate price—their lives—sooner. Despite these facts, 92 percent of women in need of treatment for drug and alcohol problems do not receive it.
WOMEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE draws from CASAColumbia research to produce a book designed to shine a light into the dark corners of this problem, help remove the stigma, and suggest ways of getting women and girls the help they need and deserve. Doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers and drug and alcohol counselors will find this book invaluable, as will policymakers and researchers in education, health care, public health, social services, corrections and welfare. Parents can find a host of ideas about protecting their daughters, and corporate executives and employee assistance program directors will discover more effective ways to help their female employees tackle this problem.
WOMEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE demonstrates how significant and pervasive a problem substance abuse has become for American women of all ages. Each year thousands of women die unnecessarily from heart disease, stroke and cancer, which are exacerbated by substance abuse, a preventable factor in each of these deaths. Some six million girls and women meet clinical criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, 15 million abuse illicit and prescription drugs, and nearly 32 million smoke cigarettes. The earlier girls start to smoke, drink or use drugs, the greater the chances they will become abusive or dependent users. Forty-six percent of 9th to 12th grade girls are current drinkers and more than half of 18-25 year old young women have used an illicit drug at least once in their lifetimes. And, we have witnessed over the last decade an enormous growth in the abuse of controlled prescription drugs among 12-17 year olds, with girls being more likely to abuse these drugs than boys.
Because each stage of a women’s life poses unique risks coupled with great opportunities for intervention, WOMEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE takes a lifespan approach to women’s substance abuse and addiction problems. It highlights key concerns and issues for girls and women at different stages of their lives to help explain how the problem develops and changes as they age, and provides much needed advice for preventing and reducing substance abuse among women at various life stages. It focuses on the formative years from eight to 22, and adult years from 22 to 60 and the mature years after 60.
WOMEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE reveals that girls are likelier than boys to use addictive substances to control their weight, to alter their mood or to reduce inhibitions. Girls and women metabolize drugs of abuse differently than boys and men, making them more sensitive to their effects and they suffer harsher consequences faster. And, girls and women are often targets of or objects in media messages that promote smoking and drinking, glorify drug use and create a climate that makes substance use and abuse appear cool and without consequence.
Substance abuse and addiction is an intensely personal and isolating problem for women of all ages. Paralyzed by shame, embarrassment, and denial, many who struggle with substance abuse do not seek the help they need. The sad fact is that health care providers are not adequately trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and addiction in women (or men for that matter), and know how to respond if they do recognize it.
This book will hold special meaning for women of all ages as it reveals that substance abuse affects all kinds of women—rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural, professional and homemaker—and that all kinds of women can confront and deal with their problems. It spells out warning signs and times of increased risk for substance abuse among girls and women and key actions that the nation can take to address this critical health and social problem.
WOMEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE, written by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia) and published by The Johns Hopkins University Press in February 2006, is the result of more than a decade of research. This book, the first of it’s kind, is the most comprehensive examination ever undertaken of substance abuse and the American woman. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s generous commitment of resources and the academic freedom they provided to CASAColumbia’s researchers have made this important book possible.
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