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For women, what factors contribute to alcoholism or other substance abuse?

For women, there are a number of factors that contribute to alcoholism or other substance abuse. Since research finds a strong family component to addiction, women with a family history of addiction should be aware of their increased risk for dependency, especially during stressful periods. There are three primary risk factors for substance use disorders:

  • Genetics: If a woman has a grandparent, parent or sibling with an addiction, she is significantly more likely to develop an addiction than a woman with no such family history.
  • Age of first use and duration of use: About 40 percent of women who began drinking as teenagers, specifically before the age of 15, and continue to drink will be diagnosed as alcohol dependent at some point in their lives. Women who began drinking at age 21 or older have a much lower chance of developing alcohol dependence.
  • Victimization: Women who have been sexually abused in childhood are more likely than other women to have alcohol-related problems. And women who seek alcoholism treatment are significantly more likely to report childhood sexual abuse and father-to-daughter verbal aggression or physical violence. One study found that women who were neglected as children but not abused were at greater risk of having alcohol-related problems regardless of any other life experience, including poverty, parental alcohol abuse, race or age.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.