Domestic violence, strength for self-defence, workplace and home care burden propels substance abuse among women, a Clinical Psychologist, Dr Adedotun Ajiboye, has said.
”It is worrisome that less attention is given to women when it comes to substance use, because it is generally believed that substance use or abuse is men’s problem.
”Psychological, social, cultural, marital, economic, gender issues are being experienced by some women prompting them into substance use,” he said.
Quoting the 2010 National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Integrated Biological and Behavioural Surveillance survey, Ajiboye said HIV prevalence among women who inject drugs was almost seven times higher than among men who inject.
He noted that over 20 per cent of high-risk drug users inject drugs, with women first injecting on average at 20 years old and men first injecting on average at around 21 years old.
“Nearly 90 per cent of high risk drug users regularly take opioids – particularly pharmaceutical opioids such as tramadol, codeine, or morphine – while the others take cocaine or amphetamines.
“But women have been found to use opioids more in order to cope with their gender roles and biological changes (e.g. menstruation)”.
The psychologist said consequences of substance abuse include physical effect on their hearts and blood vessels, and fetal alcohol syndrome, preterm and still births, in cases where the woman was pregnant.
“Substance use in women tends to develop into addiction more quickly than in men; It can be difficult for women to get help for a substance use problem during or after pregnancy because of social or legal fears. They may also lack child care while in treatment.
“Women can respond to substances differently. For example, they may have more drug cravings and may be more likely to relapse after treatment.
He however called for holistic approaches which include biological, psychological and social approaches to curb substance use or abuse among women saying that the anatomy of women frowns at substance abuse and use.
Ajiboye, who is also a mental wellness coach, stressed the need for regular psycho-education in public places, schools and religious settings and need to encourage employee assistance programme that include psycho-education on substance abuse in workplaces.
He also called on the society to frown at all sorts of violence against women, saying cultural and gender roles that could trigger substance use among women should be discouraged.
“Child care burdens should be shared between husband and wife to avoid stress that can trigger substance use.
“Families should give full social support when a woman has decided to go for therapy. If the woman is into business or has a baby, proper arrangement should be made to cater for these.
“Stigmatisation of women coming for therapy should be discouraged, couple therapy or family therapy should be encouraged when a woman is in therapy”.
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