Women Among the Hardest Hit By Addiction

Every decade, every year, even every month brings with it new challenges for the American people to cope with. Our most recent years in the U.S. have shown us a side to 21st century living that is none too pleasant. Most recently, it has become apparent that the United States is struggling with a truly cruel and difficult-to-address substance abuse crisis.

In recent years, American addiction has become a whole new ball game so to speak, with many aspects to our current addiction crisis being very unlike previous addiction problems that our country once faced. For example, our issue is more one of legal substances being particularly destructive as opposed to illegal substances (though illegal drugs are still a big problem). Also, young Americans are now more likely to become the effect of substance abuse than any prior generation was. And, perhaps most concerning of all, women are now suffering with substance abuse habits at alarmingly increasing rates, another problem that was relatively unforeseen.

American Women and Addiction

Women suffer from substance abuse in a different way than men do. While they are less likely to become the effect of addiction, they are more likely to experience significant, negative effects of substance abuse when they do become addicted. They are more likely to overdose, have an accident or injury, or even die from substance abuse. They also do not have to use as much or for as long before they become addicted to a substance. Women are also more likely to experience drug cravings and therefore relapse after drug treatment, though again they are far less likely to need drug treatment than men are.

Women are more likely to experience cardiovascular problems as a result of drug abuse, and they are statistically speaking more likely to go to the emergency room because of a drug-related emergency than men are. Also, and this point does not get addressed nearly enough, women are far more likely to be victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and even human trafficking as a result of substance abuse. Women are already more likely to experience these three phenomena than men are, but when substance abuse is added into the mix, the odds of one or more of these negative experiences occurring increases tangibly.

Human Trafficking of Women

Human trafficking is a huge problem not only across the world, but even on U.S. soil. When women abuse drugs, they become far more vulnerable to such a dire fate as this. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has studied this issue and has seen an alarming corollary of drug abuse and drug trafficking along with human trafficking.

Drug traffickers will often traffic women too, and they will even use American women to smuggle drugs across borders. In this case, not only are the drugs the prize here, but the woman is the prize too. Human traffickers and drug smugglers use drugs to bait and lure women who may or may not already have a substance abuse problem. For women who are already in a slavery situation, they will often be given drugs on a regular basis to enforce subservience.

Drugs are the key, the last nail in the coffin to a woman’s ordeal of slavery and trafficking. A woman not drugged will put up quite the fight and be difficult to manage. But get a woman addicted to drugs and use that “next fix” to control her, and you truly have a 21st century slave, willing to do anyone’s bidding in search of that next high.

The Statistics

Women and children are the primary targets for human trafficking, with drugging, not violent force or coercion, being the keystone that holds it all together. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime presents unpleasant statistics on human trafficking in the U.S. and in other countries:

  • Every year, 600,000 to 800,000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders. These individuals are forced into sex work or hard labor, and are usually doped up on drugs to remain subservient and “easy to manage.”
  • Fifty-nine percent of all trafficking victims are women, fourteen percent are men, seventeen percent are girls, and ten percent are boys.
  • When internal trafficking victims are added to the above estimates, the number of human beings trafficked and sold into slavery is somewhere in the range of two-million to four-million.
  • Roughly half of all trafficked individuals are women between the ages of twelve and twenty.
  • There are more than one and a half million surviving victims of human trafficking in the U.S. alone.
  • As far as the amounts of money being dealt with when it comes to human trafficking and its prevalence, this trade has now surpassed the illegal sale of arms, and it will likely surpass the illegal sale of drugs by the year 2020. Human trafficking is a thirty-two billion dollar industry and has occurred in all fifty states.

A 21st Century Problem Requires a 21st Century Solution

Such statistics as the above turn a knot in one’s stomach, and are very hard to think about. Human trafficking is not a new issue. Neither is substance abuse. Both have been around for thousands of years. But there has been a spike in women being trafficked and sold into slavery as a result of substance abuse, and this has got to stop. Not only will this take extensive grassroots efforts on our parts to raise awareness, offer support, create preventative campaigns, and educate people about it, but it will also take extensive rehabilitation efforts to help those who suffer on a regular basis from substance abuse issues.

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