Recent research has proven that teenagers are more likely to get addicted to drugs or alcohol than adults. Differences in the brains of teens compared to adults simply make them more vulnerable to forming a habit. They engage in more risky behaviors and are affected more when those behaviors are seeing as leading to a reward. If drugs feel good, a teen is more likely to use again.
Other studies are showing that teenage girls are at an even greater disadvantage. One study focused on just methamphetamine showed that girls have a harder time quitting meth than boys. The results can likely be extended to other drugs. Teenage girls, like their male friends, are susceptible to addiction. They also find it harder to quit and are more difficult to treat successfully.
The implications are serious and important to the health of teens, and girls especially. If teens are more likely to get addicted, and are difficult to treat, then more money and effort should be spent on prevention. If we can stop teens from using substances in the first place, the problems of addiction and treatment would be non-existent.
Girls In Addiction Vs. Boys In Addiction
A study was conducted by UCLA with girls and boys getting treatment for meth addiction. The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and found that girls in treatment for meth addiction are more likely than boys to reuse after treatment is over. Other research has shown that a similar result can be seen in adult women. Women seem to be more vulnerable to meth than men and boys.
The participants in the study were nearly equal numbers of teen boys and girls. Their average age was 17.5. The kids were given either an antidepressant called bupropion or a placebo during their stay at a treatment center for adolescents. Their treatment also included counseling and therapy. Later, they were given urine tests at regular intervals to see which teens were still using meth and which were clean.
In the promising initial results of the study, bupropion helped. The teens given the antidepressant had fewer positive drug tests later than those who had the placebo only. This shows that treating meth addiction with antidepressants could be a successful aspect of care.
The discouraging result was that the boys had twice as many clean drug tests than the girls in the study, regardless of whether they took bupropion or the placebo. The results clearly show that it is more difficult for girls to quit using meth, and that better treatment methods are needed to help girls.
Helping Teen Girls Recover From Addiction
Research like this, although it seems discouraging, is very important in helping teen girls get over addictions. The results show that one method of treatment worked well for boys, but not for girls. With further research, new techniques may be created that will help girls get clean and stay clean, whether from meth or from some other substance.
Developing new treatments for teen girls is important, but so is prevention. Boys used to abuse substances more than girls, but the gap has been closing for several years. The Department of Health and Human Services says that teen girls now match boys in illegal drug use and alcohol abuse. They actually abuse prescription drugs more than boys now.
There are many ideas about why girls experience addiction differently than boys and why they may be more difficult to treat. These include the unique kinds of pressure and stress that girls face: the pressure to look good, to fit in, and feelings of self-esteem. Girls are also more likely to develop depression than boys. Depression, especially when untreated, can lead to drug abuse and addiction. Girls are often more sensitive than boys and may react differently to criticism, trauma, or family dysfunction.
For teen girls struggling with addiction, there are many options for treatment. Teens can participate in one-on-one therapy with a trained drug counselor, family therapy, support groups, or benefit from residential treatment facilities. Some locations even offer programs solely for girls. As we learn more about addiction and gender differences, treatment and prevention should improve and more girls will hopefully get the care they need to stay sober.