Women And Drugs Essay

Length: 11 pages Sources: 20 Subject: Sports - Drugs Type: Essay Paper: #82766704 Related Topics: Crack Cocaine, Ethnography, Alcoholism, War On Drugs
Excerpt from Essay :

Female Substance Abusers and Addicts

Heroin is a highly addictive substance which is characterized by a rush of biophysiological symptoms such as a rush or feeling of euphoria, heaviness in one's extremities and a certain element of dry mouth (rehab-international.org). When it comes to heroin and gender, either gender can become addicted to it in a brief amount of time: "Addiction to heroin is characterized by the compulsion to use heroin despite an onset of negative consequences and despite the user's best attempts at stopping via willpower alone" (rehab-international.org). For women, one of the more common traits of heroin abuse is rather detrimental: the acquired tolerance means that greater doses of heroin have to be taken in order to get the original effects of the drug. When women are under the influence of the drug, they may engage in unsafe sexual activity, actions which can lead to STDs, unintended pregnancies and a range of emotional issues. Furthermore, with women who shoot heroin intravenously, there's also a risk of hepatitis and AIDS from using needles. This paper looks at the proactive and startling trend of female heroin users, and why heroin use from this particular gender is on the rise. This paper attempted to determine the specific motivations for women in using heroin as compared to men.

In the article, "Women Heroin Users" by Susan Beckerleg focuses on the choices and lifestyles of female heroin users in a touristy, coastal town in Kenya and collected data on their daily lives through ethnographic techniques. Of the sample participants, 18 women engaged in questionnaires about their reproductive health and wellness. The data was gathered and analyzed with a focus on the victimization of these women in terms of social strata and lack of opportunity: these absent opportunities often make women susceptible to health issues, injuries and early mortality. One element that Beckerleg was able to adequately conclude was that the issues that accosted these women heroin users were comparable to the ones faced by other female opiate users throughout the world (2004). "These Kenyan women live in a country where the majority of people are victims of 'structural violence', but as drug users and sex workers they face particular disadvantage" (Beckerleg, 2004). Essentially, what Beckerleg found was that these societal disadvantages were part of what led these women to heroin usage and were also what caused their further stigmatization. Thus, for women in these parts of the world using heroin was a double-edged sword: they were led to it via their desire for escapism and their usage of it pushed them further onto the fringes of society.

Another paper which takes a long look at the social cost of drug abuse is "Comparison of Female Opiate Addicts Admitted to Lexington Hospital in 1961 and 1967" by Cuskey and colleagues also agrees that the social costs of drug addiction, particularly for women, is exceedingly high. Another facet of this article which is extremely revelatory is the fact that four out of every 10 women were readmitted for treatment, many women staying in the clinic for 14 to 15 days, being released, ultimately relapsing, and thus starting the cycle up again -- spending the bulk of their lives in and out of hospitals (Cuskey, et al., 1971). What the findings of this article highlight most strongly is just how difficult it is to find an effective form of treatment for female opiate users. There is the suggestion made that when there are more adequate forms of support for Negro women and children, they generally fare much better, and have lower rates of substance abuse and the ill effects of substance abuse.

Social connections and social support are no small aspect of heroin usage and initiation. The study, "Heroin use among female adolescents: the role of partner influence in path of initiation and route of administration" by Eaves looks at how female heroin users in Baltimore start using to begin with, finding the melancholy truth that the gateway for them is generally via a male companion. "Participants were more than twice as likely to be introduced to heroin by a male friend or boyfriend (IHM) than introduced to heroin by other means (IHO). The majority of IHM females were introduced by...


There was no connection discovered between the way in which users were introduced to heroin and the way that they began to administer it (ex: smoking vs. shooting). One of the elements that Eaves is able to discuss is the particular impact of the opposite gender influence on the female introduction to heroin usage. Almost all of the participants (94%) asserted that they used heroin via inhalation, while a rate of 75% of participants asserted that they had injected heroin at some point during their use (Eaves, 2004). While some experts thought that introduction was more likely to occur via a boyfriend, the researchers actually found that there was essentially an equal likelihood of a boyfriend or a male friend (Eaves, 2004). Another finding that the bulk of users eventually went from snorting to injecting is discussed in conjunction with the potency of the drug and the impact the drug has on the human body and the human addictive system, making it more desirable and making the desire for a stronger high and a willingness to take the risks presented when it comes to injecting (Eaves, 2004). There's a strong implication for treatment and recovery which is underscored in the other studies. Effectively treating heroin addiction is far more challenging than addictions to other substances, these studies have confirmed without a doubt.

Similarly, the study "Women and Heroin" by Friedman and colleagues looks at this addiction as it manifests within the upper-class strata of females. This is a truly intriguing premise as so much of the studies with this addiction look at how it manifests in the lower classes and those who are on the fringes of society. 30 participants are gathered who are heroin users and the users take note of how their heroin use reflects certain "rejection of restrictive gender and class expectation" (Friedman et al.,1995). Thus, this group of participants demonstrates how heroin use and addiction for females of the upper class is almost a rejection of the values and the lifestyle that they were raised in. It's a rejection of these upper strata of society and often a rejection of their families as well. The researchers harness a "dynamic view of resistance, we begin to understand how these women attempt to resist the dominant discourse through their heroin use and to reinterpret their experiences with heroin" (Friedman et al.,1995). This is one of the most provocative takes on heroin usage as the users have a much different motivation for using and maintaining their addiction. This should no doubt impact treatment of the process.

A more recent study looks at the migration of heroin from the inner city out to the suburbs. In the study, "The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States" by Cicero and colleagues gathered a participant group of 9,000 opioid-using participants in over 100 treatment centers around the U.S. Of these 9,000, approximately one-third of them were dependent on heroin. Cicero looked at how this trend started, finding that people would start with prescription drugs and then move on to heroin, with cost and accessibility being the main reasons why people would experiment with it initially (2014). "The additive properties of heroin are manifold greater than prescription drugs… It gets into the brain much more quickly than other opiates and causes 'a rush' that is far stronger than that of prescription pills" (Cicero, 2014). A large chunk of the study looked at the changing face of heroin addiction, finding that it was no longer a person of color, but that 90% of users were white, and many of them were in their late 20s with increased in the number of women using heroin as well. Ultimately, this study found that heroin had migrated from urban areas to suburban and rural ones.

Another paper, "Drug Use and Gender" by Anderson, looks more closely at the motivating factors which lead women to the act of using drugs in the first place. Women enter drug-using careers largely because of their relationships with men (Anderson, 2000). Women often exit such chapters of their lives because of their relationships with family (Anderson, 2000). Anderson also found that there was a very real and very pertinent aspect of sexual abuse within the entire process that made a substantial impact on female users. Largely, Anderson found that women chose to exit this arena of their lives, it was more of a result of personal and emotional reasons (2000). This study showed more drastically than other studies that drug use manifested in such different ways among genders as a result of the fact that the gender-centric social organization of our world today.

One intriguing study which takes a long look at the way that…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anderson, T. (2000). Drug Use and Gender . udel.edu, 286-292.

Beckerleg, S.'Women heroin users: Exploring the limitations of the structural violence approach,'

International Journal of Drug Policy, vol:16 2005, p183 -190

Cicero, T., Ellis, M., & Surratt, H. (2014). The Changing Face of Heroin Use in the United States. JAMA Psychiatry, 821-826.
Glaser, G. (2013, June). Why She Drinks: Women and Alcohol Abuse. Retrieved from wsj.com: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323893504578555270434071876
McBee, R. (2004). Engendering the Alcoholic. Retrieved from h-net.org: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=8711
Newman, A. (2012, August 29). Marketing Wine as a Respite From Women's Many Roles. Retrieved from nytimes.com: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/business/media/marketing-wine-as-a-respite-for-harried-women.html?_r=0
Nih.gov. (2014). Women and Drinking. Retrieved from nih.gov: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochurewomen/women.htm#drinking
NPR. (2013, October 20). Drinking To 'Numb,' Women Gain On Men In Alcohol Abuse. Retrieved from npr.org: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/20/234882051/drinking-to-numb-women-gain-on-men-in-alcohol-abuse
Pearson, C. (2011, September). 7 Things You Need To Know About Women And Alcohol. Retrieved from huffingtonpost.com: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/women-alcohol-facts_n_3831152.html

Cite this Document:

"Women And Drugs" (2014, September 05) Retrieved January 18, 2022, from

"Women And Drugs" 05 September 2014. Web.18 January. 2022. <

"Women And Drugs", 05 September 2014, Accessed.18 January. 2022,

Related Documents
Women Drugs Drug Use in
Words: 1087 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Sports - Drugs Paper #: 93656817

Though successful treatment programs do exist, without the proper and adequate personal support systems for the individual women with substance abuse histories relapse is highly indicated (Goler et al. 2008; Dowdell et al. 2009). Nursing practice must take this factor into account when prescribing and providing care and seeking out methods for the long-term health and wellness of pregnant and post-pregnant patients. Changes to Nursing Practice Current research suggests that the

Drug Abuse and Prostitution Researchers
Words: 2001 Length: 5 Pages Topic: Sports - Drugs Paper #: 64002153

This despite how much money is being wasted on "the war on drugs." Making "war" militarily on a medical/social problem makes no sense. In addition to the psychological problems of individuals, social conditions contribute greatly to the problem. People who are alienated from society become addicted to drugs, as Sen. Robert Kennedy pointed out back in 1965. Solving the drug problem means "solving poverty and broken homes, racial discrimination

Drugs, Rock Music and Developing Countries Examining
Words: 3218 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Sports - Drugs Paper #: 16023785

Drugs, Rock Music and Developing Countries Examining the effects of imported rock music on developing countries and its impact on violence and drug abuse is by no means a simple or straightforward task. One important factor is that this type of music overwhelmingly appeals to young people under age 30, and these are often the majority of the population in many developing nations, especially the Middle East and North Africa. To

Women in Film Noir
Words: 2395 Length: 9 Pages Topic: Film Paper #: 1852135

Women in Film Noir When artists - painters, sculptors, film directors - create a portrait, they are depicting more than what they see in front of them. They are also painting themselves as well as painting their moment in history. These last two may or may not be intentional; indeed they are most usually not intentional. However, every artistic portrait is a window into an entire worldview, as we see can

Drugs and Alcohol Effects on College /
Words: 2431 Length: 8 Pages Topic: Sports - Drugs Paper #: 64011369

Drugs and Alcohol Effects on College / Campuses Current Literature On Drugs And Alcohol On College Campuses Drugs and Alcohol Effects on College Campuses The number of college students using the drug and alcohol in the United States of America has been on the increase. Binge drinking is the way most students in these colleges take alcohol. College students are a visible group where alcohol and drug abuse have become a common place.

Drug Pregnant
Words: 1057 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Sports - Drugs Paper #: 96701852

Drugs and Pregnancy The habit of taking drugs continually well into the pregnancy stages of a woman has been associated with several effects that the drugs may have on the fetus. There have been several arguments posited by various groups depending on their standpoint about the issue of drug abuse and pregnancy. There have also been attempts, as seen in this session, to classify the drugs into those that do not