hooked' on drugs `faster'
Females fighting stress, depression
by Devlin Barrett, The Toronto Star, February 6, 2003
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Girls and young women are more easily addicted to drugs and
alcohol have different reasons than boys for abusing
substances and may need single-sex treatment programs to beat
back addictions, according to an American study released
"They get hooked faster, they get hooked using lesser amounts
of alcohol and drugs and cocaine, and they suffer the
consequences faster and more severely," said Joseph Califano,
chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance
Abuse at Columbia University, which conducted the three-year
survey of girls and young women.
"With some exceptions, the substance abuse prevention programs
have really been designed with a unisex,
one-size-fits-both-sexes mentality," Califano said. "We now
know that girls are different than boys. Let's recognize it
and let's help them.''
The study, based on a U.S. survey of females, age 8 to 22,
found the gender gap is narrowing between boys and girls who
smoke, drink and use drugs.
Approximately 45 per cent of high school girls drink alcohol,
compared with 49 per cent of boys but girls outpace boys in
the use of prescription drugs, the study found.
Boys often experiment with cigarettes, alcohol and drugs in a
search for thrills or heightened social status, while girls
are motivated by a desire to reduce stress or alleviate
depression, the study found.
Girls are also more likely to abuse substances if they reached
puberty early, had eating disorders, or were ever physically
or sexually abused, researchers said.
Their likelihood of using cigarettes, alcohol or drugs also
increases when they move to a new community, or from middle
school to high school or from high school to college.
Califano said female substance abusers that were physical
abused might not respond well to a group with men. Researchers
found some confrontational methods for beating addiction may
be the wrong approach for women.