The universal affliction of drug abuse and addiction impacts all types of demographics, including women of all backgrounds and circumstances. According to data recorded from 2007 to 2009, 11.4 percent of female adults testified to using an illicit drug, which is closely catching up to an estimated 17 percent of men. On the pharmaceutical side, women have been shown to have much higher rates of medical substance use than their male counterparts, with an almost 2-to-1 ratio in the case of anti-anxiety treatment. This highlights the fact that women play an integral role in the overall drug problem in the United States.
The role of women in the world of drugs
A factor that is not typically highlighted is the existence of women within the drug trade. Often overlooked, a significant percentage of gender diversity does exist within the world of drugs and has largely unexamined effects on the social structure that underlies the entire industry. As with legitimate fields of work, the business of illegal drugs is commonly viewed as a men’s club. However, a specific line of studies have looked into this further and revealed that feminine skills and perspectives have a profound effect on the exchange and sale of drugs. Despite this though, while many samples of women demonstrated they were capable of cold or violent behaviors, the prevalence of these actions taking place in everyday business was insignificant.
Unfortunately, the lives of female drug dealers have common consequences within the industry. One 1996 study showed that women dealers were highly correlated with drug use later in life. A woman becoming involved with drug sales or use can easily start abusing drugs and form a destructive addiction, forcing her to become dependent on continued criminal activity which increases her risk of arrest and incarceration.
Addicted women in jail
Once a woman is arrested or prosecuted in regards to drug affiliation, matters will often worsen within the American incarceration system. Statistics detail that approximately two-thirds of women within the walls of federal prison are sentenced for nonviolent drug offenses. Furthermore, over three quarters of women behind bars are mothers, many being single parents. What’s worse, these trends will only continue to rise due to invasive judicial charges, such as conspiracy which is predominantly responsible for the unnecessary excess of female inmates. Conspiracy offenses take women who simply have a partner involved with drugs and rapidly sentence them to unjust punishments. Sadly, these prison terms also last longer than the average male sentences.
Whether the imprisonment is short or long, being labeled as an ex-convict severely limits the opportunities and support for any individual, especially women. Most importantly, for the overwhelmingly large portion of convicted women who are also mothers, children with incarcerated parents are several times more likely than other children to enter foster care, to end education early or to become involved in the criminal justice system themselves. Not only is this detrimental cycle extremely difficult to break out of, it can also have lasting, poisonous influences on generations to come. Thus, the issue only spreads to innumerable and new populations.
One of the few defenses against the issue of women’s involvement with drugs is facilities that concentrate on the comprehensive treatment of those suffering from debilitating addictions. By finding a good treatment program, a woman struggling with addiction is able to break the destructive cycle and improve her quality of life exponentially.
At Sovereign Health of Arizona, our expert team of mental health care professionals target underlying factors that could be preventing effective recovery and separate at-risk women from the dangerous environments that could begin a circle of addiction, crime and arrest. If you or your loved one is involved with drugs and needs help, speak to one of our dedicated service providers for more information on our programs. Chat with us anytime online or call 866- 598-5661 to speak with a member of our team.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer
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