Tag Archives: substance abuse

Tag Archives: substance abuse


Teenage boys experiencing rehabAccording to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1.3 million U.S. adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2014. During this transitional period, adolescents are at heightened risk for alcohol and drug use; the teenage brain has not yet fully developed, making it more challenging for them to exert critical thinking skills. If you have a teen who has been struggling with substance abuse, the sooner they seek help, the better. Teens have a high possibility of recovering from substances without taking it into adulthood if they obtain treatment early on; before pursuing treatment, however, you and your teen may be wondering what “teen rehab” truly looks like.

Personal Experiences

1. Admitting the Problem

In 2017, Tonic, a portion of Vice Magazine that covers trending topics on mind, body, healthcare and more, sought to get some information from those who’d attended rehabilitation for substance abuse as teens. Sammy, age 31, expressed that it was hard for them to go through rehab because they kept wanting to “write off” their drinking as part of teen experimentation. They stated,

“I actually struggled for a really long time to admit [I was a person with alcoholism] because I never did my drinking in bars and never got a DUI.”

Since drinking and drug use is often considered a normal part of “teen angst” or adventure, many teens in rehab must acknowledge that their patterns of behavior are not healthy for them.

2. Becoming Part of a New Community

Morgan, 22, explained that she got out of rehabilitation for Xanax, alcohol and opiates a month before her 21st birthday. Despite having gone through a journey to understanding that she did struggle with addiction, she came to know many people throughout treatment that helped her form a sense of community. She even came into contact with an old high school friend who had been practicing sobriety for a few years. She stated,

“A bunch of sober people showed up and I actually had a really nice time.”

As with anyone in recovery, teens will need to find people they can rely on who support their recovery efforts. Going back to the same social groups they abused substances with will only reinforce negative patterns of behavior.

3. Finding Yourself

Many teens become lost during these developmental years, as they’re trying to figure out who they are. They’re more susceptible to follow through with peer pressure because they want to “fit in” and, without having a clear sense of their own values, beliefs and identity, they’re at an increased risk for making impulsive decisions. Jamie, 23, told Tonic that despite her friends believing her weed and alcohol addictions were simply “phases”, she came to realize that it was through rehabilitation that she gained a sense of clarity about who she was. She stated,

“Most of my peers are popping Adderall when midterms and finals roll around. I can become envious at time…But then I think: how awesome that I get to do this sober – it’s all me!”

Components of Rehab

Therapy

Teen rehabilitation is similar to adult rehabilitation in that individual therapy and group therapy is going to be a part of the daily experience. Teens need someone to talk to – someone to learn more about addiction from, someone to share their experiences with and someone to develop healthy ways to work through thoughts and emotions. The Fix highlights many benefits that therapy can bring to our teens:

  • Guidance through a sensitive time
  • Mediation in family work
  • Mental health “tools” and ways of thinking about substances
  • Enhanced learning opportunities

Environment

In residential treatment programs, teens are provided with much more guidance and support than they would receive attending anything else. Here are some specific benefits of residential treatment:

  • An environment with no triggers – teens who are not surrounded by friends they abuse substances with are able to heal much more efficiently than those with constant reminders
  • Families receive a short break – for many families, a break is exactly what’s needed when their teen is in and out of trouble with substances. Family members can take a step back from unpredictability and feel safe in knowing their teen is being well taken care of.
  • Structure – with daily schedules, teens quickly learn to formulate a plan from morning to night. There is little down time for them to think about acquiring substances – and residential treatment will ensure that all their activities planned throughout the day promote their sobriety, healing and recovery.

Support

Teens need as much support as possible, and this accounts for all aspects of their lives. With an entire healthcare team by their side, teens are encouraged to live a life that speaks to their mind, body and spirit. 12-Step models of support provide youth with clinical therapy, educational services and adventure programming – all of which speak to the heart of recovery.

Education is incredibly important for teens during this time, and recovery shouldn’t set them back. ARCH Academy specifically offers a fully accredited private high school with grades 7-12 and includes GED prep, credit recovery options and follow-up placement. Between the love and support provided by staff, to the teachers, to their therapist and their family, teens are set up to succeed.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

Woman showing drug-seeking behaviorsAddiction is a huge epidemic in the United States – in fact, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that almost half of Americans have reported having a friend or family member who struggles with addiction. One of the best ways that we can combat this epidemic is to keep our eyes and ears open for others who may need support. Knowledge is power and providing the right resource to someone who needs it could truly change their life for the better. Healthcare workers are certainly likely to be exposed to more drug-seeking behaviors, as the doctor’s office is a common place for this to be enacted. Nonetheless, being aware of the types of drug-seeking behaviors can help us better identify them if they appear from our loved ones.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency notes that many people who are seeking out drugs will want to make a doctor’s appointment at the very end of the day. They may not wish to disclose where they live and they may display unusual behavior while waiting for the doctor. The following are some other common drug-seeking behaviors:

  • Asking for a specific kind of drug while being inflexible to trying something else
  • Seeming to have a lot of knowledge about various drugs
  • Acting very demanding and assertive when it comes to getting drugs, with little patience
  • Using tactics such as telling a tragic story in order to obtain medicine in light of a doctor’s sympathy
  • Going from doctor to doctor or hospital to hospital, hoping to receive more of the same drug from different places
  • And more

A 2017 study published in the journal PloS One emphasized that when these behaviors are exhibited, physicians are much more likely to feel concerned that drug dependency is taking place. If you’ve noticed any of these signs from your loved one, this means it is time for them to seek help.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Finding healthy hobbies during recoverySobriety is an entirely different lifestyle than that of active addiction and you’ll find that throughout your recovery journey, new hobbies will become necessary. All of the time you spent previously using substances or finding ways to obtain them is now open time during your schedule to discover new ways to learn more about yourself and the world around you. Hobbies are a great way to not only do this, but to build your skill sets, make better connections with others and to build up your self-confidence. If you’re ready to incorporate some hobbies into your life but you’re not quite sure what to do, consider trying a multitude of activities to see what sticks and what doesn’t.

Create a list and rank different hobbies as either something you’re absolutely excited to learn about, or as something that would be “nice to learn” but not necessarily at the top of your list. In doing this, you may become surprised at what types of hobbies intrigue you. Some may be more feasible to engage in than others, but what really matters is that you get started.

One of the most beautiful aspects of incorporating new hobbies is the unforeseen benefits that may derive from them. A 2017 study titled “Addiction Recovery, Gardening and Faith: The Garden of Allan” explored how gardening as a hobby can benefit those in addiction recovery. Researchers from the study found that gardening wasn’t only a valuable life skill to learn for participants, but also was extremely therapeutic in relieving common co-occurrences of addiction, such as depression and anxiety.

Hobbies can be learned and developed over time, so be sure not to hold yourself back from learning a new hobby because you think you will not succeed. Take the plunge and dive right into learning – you never know what you may find.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

all us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

How impulsivity impacts addiction recoveryImpulsivity has long been part of the discussion when it comes to addiction recovery, as individuals who have difficulty holding back from acting on something – despite their negative consequences – have been shown to be more susceptible to addiction. As an article published by researchers from California suggests, addiction affects the prefrontal cortex, which influences the way a person makes decisions, speaks, learns, judges and more. The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain that we use to make rational decisions, but where impulsivity takes place, addiction causes a person to transition from impulsivity to compulsivity. When this happens, a person is no longer using substances for pleasure – rather, they are seeking out substances because their mind and body feel compelled to do so; as the researchers from the study aforementioned suggest, this is essentially like having a car without brakes.

Impulsivity: How It Works

A 2014 article published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) explained that impulsivity is a form of altered regulation in the brain and those who are more prone to impulsive behaviors are prone to choosing immediate rewards over more effortful, long-term incentives. Furthermore, a 2017 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology sought to explore the types of impulsivity and how they are linked to addictive behaviors. A total of 1,252 young adults were assessed on different impulsive and personality trait measures and these were the three “types” of impulsivity the researchers found:

  • Impulsive Choice – choosing immediate rewards over longer-term ones
  • Impulsive Action – difficulty withholding a response to act impulsively
  • Impulsive Personality Traits – personality traits that often correlate to acting without thinking

Previous studies have shown that impulsivity, attention and working memory deficits are often found in those with substance use disorders (SUDs). While we can understand the relationship between impulsivity and how addiction translates this into compulsiveness for those abusing substances, a different question remains: Do those in addiction recovery still experience issues with impulsiveness? If so, what is their experience like?

Combatting Impulsivity in Addiction Recovery

A study conducted by researchers from Portland, Oregon in 2017 sought to understand these types of impairments in adults recovering from methamphetamine addiction. Twenty-four people in recovery were compared with thirty people not addicted to any substances. The researchers conducted several tests to identify any key differences between the groups, especially as it relates to executive functioning and impulsivity. They found that those recovering from meth addiction experienced much more difficulty with attention and working memory, planning and organization and mental flexibility compared to the group of individuals not struggling with addiction.

There’s no doubt that the effects of addiction can weigh heavily on one’s recovery – for many, it’s a process of learning and re-learning.

Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, Executive Director of the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). explained in 2014 that part of breaking down this impulsive nature is to try different approaches – and often, over time – so the brain learns to ask questions, problem solve, weigh out decisions and more, which are tools towards combating relapse and living more mindfully.

This type of “brain training” is heavily reinforced in intensive outpatient treatment programs, where individuals can begin to practice what they’ve been learning in treatment to their home, school and work lives. Of course, impulsiveness can still rear its head, even for someone who has been working diligently towards their recovery for quite some time. In some moments of vulnerability, we may find that we’re more susceptible to acting on our emotions – and that is when we really need to remind ourselves of the rules for recovery.

The 5 Rules of Recovery

A 2015 article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine emphasized that when it comes to relapse prevention, it’s a gradual process. Different stages take place and along with that come various personal milestones. The main tools of recovery often involve cognitive therapy, which helps to change negative thinking and impulsive behaviors that stem from it. There were 5 simple rules listed for recovery, which really provides an excellent and easy-to-understand foundation for those working to overcome impulses:

  1. Change your life – create a life where it’s easier to not use; this is often in terms of your routine, who you spend your time with and the hobbies you partake in
  2. Be completely honest – both with yourself and others, take responsibility when it’s due
  3. Ask for help – speak to your sponsor, reach out to your peers in your program and refer to the resources you’ve been given in recovery thus far to help guide you through challenging times
  4. Practice self-care – eat healthily, get exercise, sleep well, drink water and take good care of your health overall. Recovery is not just about sobriety, it’s about nourishing your mind, body and spirit
  5. Don’t bend the rules!

If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. It is never too late.

Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tennessee on Music Row is a 12-Step based alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We offer personalized assessments and treatment plans, as well as convenient evening hours to accommodate your workday schedule. To get started on your recovery journey today, call us at 615-356-2700.

exercising youthPrevious studies have shown exercise can provide many mental and physical benefits to adolescents, but what about for those teens in addiction recovery? Addiction affects the adolescent brain in many negative ways, such as with critical thinking, learning, memory and more. Researchers believe that exercise can help mitigate these effects; Dr. Nora Nock, a professor at Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, stated in a 2018 article published by Medical Express,

“Exercise may help to reinforce these underdeveloped connections between reward and regulatory processes and offset reward-seeking from substance use in adolescents.”

Since the adolescent brain isn’t fully developed, teens are more likely to make risky choices that could lead to addiction. A 2017 review published in the journal Frontier Psychology noted that outside of substance abuse, teens often face pressure from parents and family, peers and the desire to conform, school responsibilities, stress as they experience developmental changes, boredom as they experience more “free time” by themselves and with friends and comorbid mental health concerns.

In 2018, however, U.S. News reported that exercise can impact serotonin levels, which help regulate mood. Exercise can also release cortisol, the “stress” hormone, which will naturally make your teen feel lighter on their feet. Exercise builds positive self-esteem and helps teens sleep better, which can greatly improve their overall functioning. By taking part in a form of healthy physical activity, your teen may find they’re better able to connect with others and work through their recovery – which places them at a further step towards building their happiness and health.

If your teen is ready to begin their journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. The sooner they seek help, the better their chances of preventing future addiction.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

Man struggling with societal pressure from substance abuseWith there being clear differences in gender roles for hundreds of years, it’s clear that men experience different societal pressures than women face. In 2016, several men opened up on Buzzfeed about some of the greatest pressures they’ve faced as a man in America today. Here were some of the expectations that were listed:

  • The expectation to look “manly” and muscular
  • Needing to act “tough”
  • Must take up space in a room
  • Cannot cry

Some men reported being told they weren’t “manly” enough, which added a stronger sense of shame. The University of Pittsburgh even noted that advertisements and male icons are often depicted as “violent” and “aggressive”, leaving many men to wonder where they fit in. As men are navigating the unforeseen road to meeting expectations, it makes sense that they’re pushed to their breaking point – and often.

In 2015, researchers in California published a study to assess social influencers of alcohol use for men. They found that men are more likely than women to experience social pressures to use substances, as well as pressure to do it covertly. Furthermore, another 2015 study published in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity involved the collection of data from 804 college adult men regarding the masculine norms they face and their substance use patterns. Several themes emerged, with the following “masculine themes” being most positively associated with heavy substance use:

  • Playboy – having many sexual encounters
  • Risk-taking – engaging in risky behaviors, regardless of the consequences

Emotional control and heterosexual presentation (importance of appearing heterosexual to others) were found to be the least of the “masculine themes” to be associated with higher risks of drinking and substance abuse. As men in today’s society, it’s important that we provide both education and support to foster awareness and learning initiatives towards breaking down some of these pressures that weigh heavily on us.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Teenage boy in recoveryIt’s challenging to watch your adolescent boy go through addiction recovery, but it’s vital for their happiness and health. As a parent, family member, friend or caregiver, there are likely so many hopes and expectations that you have for them and you want to make sure they get through this safe and sound. When we talk about addiction recovery success, it’s important to consider what that means to you – because that will ultimately impact the connection you have with your teen. Let’s explore some of the general elements that should be taken into consideration when building up your own idea of what recovery “success” should look like.

A 2018 study published in the journal Addiction Research & Theory spoke with administration professionals and practitioners in the addiction recovery field to see what they generally consider a success for successful adolescent recovery. These were part of their responses:

Factors Demonstrating Success

  • An adolescent being able to create a life they really want and being able to look in the mirror and love themselves
  • Staying productive in school and/or work
  • Sobriety
  • Learning and using life skills
  • Staying engaged in the recovery process
  • Becoming emotionally healthy

Progress Towards Success

  • Length of time sober and cognitive functioning improvements because of this
  • The ability to learn from mistakes in a supported environment

How do you define “recovery”? What can you do to foster the outcomes that you want? As a family member, it’s important to note that these wishes you have for your teen need to be uplifted and supported by you through your words and actions. Practitioners from the previously mentioned study did note that family involvement was a key factor to enabling recovery success and you can do this becoming actively engaged in their recovery as well as supporting them when they take steps or leaps of progress.

If your teen is ready to begin their journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

Teen in addiction recovery“I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

– Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Over the years, more additions have been implemented in addiction recovery programs because researchers and addiction professionals alike have witnessed first-hand the benefits of having a variety of treatment interventions. With a number of activities to choose from, recovery can be customized to a person’s age, gender and recovery needs. Adventure therapy, otherwise known as experiential therapy, has been shown to greatly benefit adolescents in recovery by breaking down some of the barriers and stigmas associated with typical treatment and by getting youth actively involved in their program – and in truly unique ways.

Defining Adventure Therapy

Adventure therapy is simply a form of psychotherapy that involves adventure. It is through a variety of activities that youth and others in addiction recovery can address past, present and future issues but in nontraditional ways. There are several types of activities that can be incorporated into this, such as:

  • Wilderness therapy
  • Rope courses
  • Hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, etc.
  • Games
  • Group activities

Adventure therapy often exposes youth to different environments, which also promotes their involvement in the present moment. There’s something about adventure – curiosity, exploration and learning – that appeals to embracing life as we know it. The period of adolescence is one where symptoms of depression and anxiety can kick in, along with other stressors; when we incorporate “fun” and “play” into recovery, new opportunities arise for our teens to learn more about themselves and others in a safe environment.

Benefits of Adventure Therapy

Adolescents are likely to get so much out of adventure therapy – in both direct and indirect ways. A 2016 study published in the journal Evaluation and Program Planning assessed 36 adolescents in an outpatient treatment center for 10 weeks as they embarked on adventure therapy and found that it offered these adolescents with prevention, early intervention and treatTeen in addiction recoveryment benefits that truly helped them with behavioral, psychological and social concerns as well. The Association for Experiential Education notes that adventure therapy promotes goal setting, personal decision making and achieving outcomes and group activities can enhance teens’ abilities to build connections with others.

Even at a young age, there are many teens who have struggled with abuse, neglect or other forms of trauma. As a 2017 study published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma notes, adventure therapy can also greatly benefit youth who have experienced some trauma in their life; when families become involved in these activities, it can improve family functioning – especially regarding communication efforts, closeness and problem-solving skills.

Since adventure therapy takes place in a variety of settings, multiple learning styles are addressed, including visual, audio, kinesthetic and youth who benefit from spatial learning. This means that in addition to physical and emotional exercise associated with a variety of challenges, adolescents are supported through intellectual exercise. As the study mentioned previously states, “cause and effect” experiences teach youth how to handle stressful events in a supported environment with peers and staff. One individual from the study explained,

“The student is able to learn how to take immediate accountability and ownership for his emotions and choices after a stress response elicited by an experience which has occurred…”

Breaking Down Barriers

The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that young people in recovery often go through an avoidance stage, a learning stage and a stage in which they begin to internalize healthier thinking and behavioral patterns. Adventure therapy typically lasts over the course of a few hours or weeks, which works to break down some of the defensive barriers that many teens experience at the beginning of the program. Dr. Andrew Erkis, a psychologist who studies adolescents at-risk, told the APA,

“They’re in an emotionally safe place, they’re not going anywhere, and by the way, they’re exercising, they’re eating well, they’re sleeping well – they’re starting to look and feel great.”

With time spent outdoors and interaction with nature, adolescents are likely to find themselves strengthening their coping skills while discovering the importance of sobriety and how that can enrich their lives.

Adolescents struggling with substance dependence are often feeling a sense of loss and hopelessness as they attempt to discover who they are and how they fit into the world. Adventure therapy truly provides a unique experience that strengthens their view of themselves and how they connect to others, as well as a better understanding of the “big picture” of life. If your teen is ready to start taking hold of their journey to recovery, we’re here to help.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.

adolescent addict talking with motherThe adolescent stage is a unique period of a person’s life because of all of the developmental changes, both physically and mentally. When addiction becomes involved, youth are significantly at risk for getting into trouble at school, at home, with peers and with their health overall. According to a review published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, there are a number of factors that place youth at risk for addiction, such as: exposure to drugs, socioeconomic status, quality of parenting, peer group influence and genetic predisposition to addiction. When an adolescent engages in addiction, recovery can be challenging based on their age and mentality alone. What can we do to help keep our teens in treatment?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) argues that there are several effective forms of treatment for adolescents, which may include behavioral approaches, family-based approaches, medication assistance and more. Most likely it will depend on the circumstance of the adolescent to determine what type of treatment would best suit them, but there are a number of treatment elements that all adolescents should receive in order to find promising, long-lasting recovery results after formalized treatment.

A few years ago, researchers from Texas assessed the results of 547 youth from various treatment centers to find out what worked for them in terms of long-term recovery – and what didn’t. They found that teens who used drugs after their program ended tended to:

  • Drink alcohol
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Not use condoms
  • Experience psychological distress
  • Engage in criminal behaviors
  • Skip school

Teens who didn’t revert to addiction-related behaviors tended to have the following both before and during formal treatment:

  • Higher motivation in recovery
  • Stronger counselor and peer-to-peer relationships
  • Retainment in treatment programs

How can we make sure our youth are receiving more of the latter and less of the former? Researchers believe that the motivation of teens can be cultivated more during the beginning phases of treatment. Motivation enhancement therapy (MET) could be an excellent approach but being able to engage in other activities and to find great connections through treatment could also spark more motivation for youth as well.


Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

two women enjoying life in recoveryWhen it comes to substance use, it’s clear that men and women have different tolerances. Body mass, weight and much more often have an effect on how much and how often men are able to consume compared to women, but are there other factors that play a part?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), men are more likely than women to use all kinds of illicit drugs – so what makes women more susceptible to becoming addicted to them? Research is showing us different clues that we weren’t expecting – let’s take a look at them.


U.S. News highlighted just last year the following factors that are placing women at higher risk for addiction:

  1. Mental illnesswomen have been found to report higher levels of depression and anxiety than men, and previous studies have shown us just how closely linked mental illness and addiction truly are. Many people with mental illness find themselves abusing substance as an attempt to self-medicate, which places women at an overall higher risk
  2. Greater susceptibility to marijuana – a study from Washington University concluded that estrogen levels may make women more susceptible to the pain-relief that drugs like marijuana enact, which could lead to other substances being abused; researchers are wondering whether marijuana could be a gateway drug for many women
  3. More incidents of trauma, discrimination and stress – it’s been reported that half of all women have or will experience some form of trauma during their lifetime and research has proven that trauma is correlated with substance abuse

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research reviewed the stages of addiction and how women experience each stage. These are the stages and what they reported:

  1. Stage 1: Acquisition – women may experience more pleasurable responses to drugs than men and are more likely to self-medicate; men have been shown to use drugs to socialize and engage in group processes more so than women
  2. Stage 2: Escalation – drug addiction is rapidly progressive for women than men
  3. Stage 3: Maintenance – men stabilize at lower doses than women
  4. Stage 4: Withdrawal – for women who smoke cigarettes, the withdrawal effects are often more severe than for men who smoke; men experience greater withdrawal symptoms from alcohol than women do, however
  5. Stage 5: Relapse – men to do have longer abstinence periods than women when it comes to relapse

Even though men and women experience addiction at different paces, it nonetheless doesn’t discriminate. Addiction can affect anyone and everyone – which is why seeking help is so incredibly important.


Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.


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