Alcohol and drug use in women
Women, like men, use alcohol and other psychoactive substances for a range of reasons including relaxation and pleasure but this needs to be viewed in the context of women’s roles in contemporary society. In contrast with men, drinking behaviours or drug use in women is considered to be deviant behaviours and women are more stigmatised, marginalised and labelled. Research indicates that women with substance use problems are more likely than men to be younger, to have a partner with a substance use problem, to have dependent children, often to live with a drug using partner, to have more severe problems at the beginning of treatment, to have trauma related to physical and sexual abuse and to have concurrent psychiatric disorders. Maternal alcohol use during pregnancy contributes to a wide range of disorders on the offspring including social, emotional and cognitive development, learning deficits, hyperactivity, attention problems and foetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The behaviours and lifestyles of parents with substance use disorders have a significant impact on the children. In some cases, parental substance use can affect parenting styles and behaviours, pre-natal development, and early childhood and adolescent development. A parent who misuses psychoactive substances does not necessarily equate to poor parenting.