|Volume 6 Issue 21 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 21-Jan-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 22-Jan-2004-Jan-2004||Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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Report says young females follow unique substance abuse path
Differences between the sexes is an age-old topic. Yet, when it comes to alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use, a new study shows that we have a lot to learn.
Young females have been catching up to young males in their use of harmful substances. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University did a 3-year study to look for answers that might be specific to girls and young women.1
What To Know
Looking at both causes and effects, the CASA study found that alcohol and drug use is much different for young females than for young males.
So, why do girls and young women turn to harmful substances? Often, young females who use them are trying to cope. Girls and young women may seek to:
More than teen boys, teen girls feel it is easy to get LSD, crack, cocaine, and heroin. They are just as likely as teen boys to say that marijuana is easy to get. Teen girls also are less likely to have to prove their age when they try to buy cigarettes.3
Other issues related to young females' underage drinking, smoking, and illegal drug use include:
The CASA report also revealed that caffeine is linked to young females' use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. Girls and young women who drink coffee are much more likely to smoke and drink alcohol than girls and young women who do not drink coffee.5 Young women who drink coffee also begin smoking and drinking alcohol at earlier ages.6
What's more, young females are more likely than young males to suffer the physical effects of harmful substances. The study found that:
What To Say
Parents may find it hard to talk with their daughters about the use of harmful substances. Yet, it's worth the effort. In CASA's survey of 8- to 22-year-olds throughout the country, most girls who talked with their parents about smoking, alcohol use, and illegal drug use said they were less likely to use substances as a result. Half of the girls who had these chats with their parents said they learned something new.8 So, it's crucial that parents know the facts about substance use.
Talking about interests and daily life can help, too. Discussing friends, dating, and other concerns can help young people make good choices and deal with tense situations. This can be vital for young females given the large role that tension, mood, and life changes play in their use of substances.
Caring adults should stay positive. Let young females know that you value them and the things they care about. At the same time, be clear and firm about your response to substance use and other problem behavior.
What To Do
There's a lot that parents and other caring adults can do to make girls and young women less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs:
1 Join Together Online. CASA Finds Differences in Why Girls vs. Boys Use Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Other Drugs, last referenced 12/3/03.
2 CASA. The Formative Years: Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls and Young Women Ages 8-22, [pdf] last referenced 12/3/03.
4Join Together Online. CASA Finds Differences in Why Girls vs. Boys Use Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Other Drugs, last referenced 12/3/03.
8 CASA. The Formative Years: Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls and Young Women Ages 8-22, [pdf] last referenced 12/3/03.