Points to Remember
· Women face unique issues when it comes to substance use. These differences are influenced by sex (differences based on biology) and gender (differences based on culturally defined roles).
· Research has found many differences in how women and men use substances and react to substances. For example, women use drugs in smaller amounts than men, but they can experience the effects more strongly.
· Using substances while pregnant can harm the health of a pregnant woman and her fetus.
· More women are using marijuana during pregnancy than in past years, which could result in smaller babies and goes against the advice from the top medical group representing obstetricians.
· The use or misuse of some drugs while pregnant, especially opioids, can cause a newborn infant to experience withdrawal symptoms, a condition known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
· 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.
· Treatment programs should take these issues into consideration and offer child care, job training, and parenting classes.
· In the past, women were not included in clinical research. Federal agencies have made significant efforts to ensure that all subgroups of people are included and that issues related to sex and gender are being studied.