Posted on: November 21, 2019 Posted by: Jan Kopischke Comments: 0

Shaunna Randazzo, Angela Aggen, and Allie Nickson

Addiction Studies Students

College age women come in all shapes and sizes. They differ from age to background. Despite these differences, substance use will take a physical toll on their bodies and health in much the same way. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), even short-term drug and alcohol use can have an impact on women’s health. Short-term effects such as change in blood pressure, heart-rate, memory, decision making, sleep issues, and increased risk for violence and injury are just a few things on the list. Long-term use can cause irreversible damage to one’s liver, lungs, heart, and brain. It can increase the risk for cancer and many other life-threatening illnesses. 

Women are in a unique situation. They are bombarded daily with pressures to be beautiful and successful. Women are expected to balance work, family, and school. They are EXPECTED to be perfect. This pressure can easily lead to substance use as a way to escape from it all. However, women also process drugs and alcohol differently in their bodies. Women don’t metabolize alcohol as effectively as men due to a lower bodily water percentage, leading to more harm being done to women’s bodies and at a faster rate.  Women are also more vulnerable to developing dependency issues. This means that a simple recreational drug can turn into a serious problem. Women are also at increased risk for harm any time then are impaired by a substance. According to the CDC, each year 1 in 20 women are sexually assaulted and all research suggests that alcohol and drug use increases these odds. Women also have an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), and other brain damage or complications if consuming alcohol or drugs while pregnant. 

According to the NIH, binge drinking is having 4 drinks in a two-hour period. When it comes to college students, about one third of women aged 18-22 engaged in binge drinking and one in five have used drugs in the past month. Substance use constitutes one of the most serious public health issues for young people in the U.S., creating negative health and other consequences.

 Alcohol consumption can lead to hormone disruptions, interfere with calcium metabolism, bone structure, and cause significant thiamine deficiency. As busy female students, women need all the energy they can get, and drinking or using drugs can take a toll on their bodies and health. 

If you or someone you know is being impacted by substance abuse, there is help available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a national helpline open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week: (800) 622-HELP. They are open 365 days a year to provide treatment information and referrals. Here at Moraine Valley students can receive help at the Counseling Center in Building S, Room S202 or by calling (708) 974-5722.