Teenage girls are using drugs just like the boys, experts say. According to one survey, more than 45 percent of high school girls drink alcohol, more than a quarter binge drink and about 20 percent use marijuana. They are just as likely as boys to abuse inhalants, cocaine, and other illicit substances. They are more likely than boys to abuse prescription painkillers, stimulants, and tranquilizers.
Despite promising statistics on the recent declines in teen drug use, we are facing an unfortunate reality: girls are using drugs at an earlier age than ever before, causing the gender gap between boys and girls to narrow in the face of drug abuse. In 2013, the rate of substance dependence among adolescent males was 5.3 percent. Among adolescent females, 5.2 percent.
If you have a daughter over the age of thirteen, there is a great likelihood that she has already been exposed to drinking or drug use. And as she grows, that probability will only increase. Nearly half of high schoolers have already used an illicit drug. More than a quarter of 8th graders have consumed alcohol.
Right now, you likely have many burning questions like, “Why do teens use drugs at all?” or, “What is driving my daughter to use drugs?” As a parent, a concerned loved one, know that it is okay to ask questions. And you should.
It is radically important to unearth the root of your daughter’s drug use as soon as it starts to surface. Ask your daughter how things are going or how she is feeling. Ask her who she’s been hanging out with of late. You can even directly ask her if she is drinking or using drugs, and what made her start in the first place.
Your daughter may not be upfront with her reasons for drug use right away. She may not even recognize the reasons, herself. As a parent, you can help her by understanding the paths that most often lead young women to drug use. Let’s consider five common reasons many teenage girls use drugs, as reported by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
1. Unstable mental state
Girls are more likely than boys to be depressed, to have eating disorders, or to experience anxiety. These co-occurring disorders are some of the most prominent risk factors for substance abuse in young women.
Girls are also more likely to have a history of sexual or physical abuse. In fact, 55 to 99 percent of women in drug treatment report a history of trauma or PTSD.
3. Early puberty
Girls experience an early onset of puberty (that is, around ages 10-13) are at higher risk of early substance use. Studies have shown that girls of this age who use drugs or drink alcohol do so more often and in greater quantities than their later maturing peers.
4. Periods of transition
Transitioning from middle to high school, or high school to college, is not always easy for young women. With each transition, they need to make new friends, balance new priorities, establish new routines. This stress often leads many young females to use drugs as a means of relief.
Moving from city to city or over state borders also puts stress on the young female, who may feel as if she has to restart her life all over again with each move. For this reason, girls who frequently move from one home to another are at greater risk of using substances than teen boys in similar situations.
5. Influential relationships
While young males are most likely to get drugs from a stranger, teenage girls and young women are more likely to be offered substances by someone much closer: a prominent female acquaintance, a young female relative, or an intimate boyfriend. Many girls want to impress a dominant, whether it is a female they look up to or a boyfriend they want to please, ultimately leading them to try drugs. While boys are more likely to try drugs in public, girls are more likely to receive offers in private.
Understanding the root of your daughter’s drug habits and addressing it early on can keep her from developing a deep-seated dependence later down the road. The fact is, teenage girls and young women are more likely than their male counterparts to experience the negative effects of substance abuse. Not only are they more prone to drug-related health problems, such as cardiac or liver disease, they are also more susceptible to substance addiction, and develop it at a much faster rate than men.
The paths to substance use for teen girls and young women vary. But by understanding the diverse paths, and understanding how distinct they are from young men’s, we can start to make a difference in our loved ones’ lives. Education, prevention, and early intervention are key to keeping our young ones sober. To learn more about drug use in teenage girls, or about our drug rehab for women, call Turnbridge at 877-581-1793.