Our country is currently struggling with the worst addiction epidemic in its history. The face of addiction and the specific challenges that come with it change year after year. Now, legal prescription drugs are posing an even bigger threat than illegal street drugs. Addiction affects people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, income levels, education levels, locations, and other demographics, yet not every group is affected equally. Now, women are dealing with substance abuse rates that are increasing dramatically.
Women and Addiction
Substance abuse does not affect men and women in exactly the same way. Women are less likely than men to become the effect of addiction, however they are more likely to experience dire negative effects when they do become addicted. Compared to men, women are more likely to experience an overdose, have an accident or injury, or lose their lives from their substance abuse habits. It also takes relatively less time and exposure to a substance for an addiction to develop. Compared to men, women are more likely to experience cravings and relapse after completing drug treatment. On the flipside, women are less likely than men to need treatment.
Women are more likely to have cardiovascular issues as a consequence of drug abuse, and they are also more likely to go to an emergency room because of drug related issues. Women are also far more likely to become victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and human trafficking as a result of substance abuse. These are already more common among women than men without the influence of substance abuse, but adding drugs to the equation increases the risk of each of these dramatically.
Human trafficking is a massive problem globally, even in the United States. Drug abuse makes women far more vulnerable to it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found a major correlation between drug abuse and drug trafficking with human trafficking.
Drug traffickers have been known to traffic women too, even using American women to smuggle drugs over borders. These traffickers use drugs as a way to bait women that may or may not already have an addiction issue. Women already in these slavery situations are frequently given drugs as a way to enforce subservience. Women who are addicted are much easier to control, as they will do just about anything to get their next fix.
Statistic on Drug Abuse and Human Trafficking
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has compiled some rather disturbing statistics on human trafficking:
- Between 600,000 to 800,000 women, children, and men are bought and sold into slavery every year. They are forced into sex work or hard labor, and are usually given drugs as a form of control.
- Of all trafficking victims, 59% or women, 14% men, 17% girls, and 10% boys.
- About half of all victims are women between 12 and 20 years old.
- There are over 1.5 million survivors of human trafficking in the U.S. alone.
- Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry. It has surpassed illegal arms sales and will likely surpass illegal drug sales by 2020.
The above statistics are truly heartbreaking and difficult to imagine. Drug abuse and human trafficking are nothing new, but the rate of women being sold into slavery as a result of substance abuse is increasing dramatically, and we need to do something about it. It will require extensive law enforcement effort, as well as grassroots campaigns to raise awareness, and education to teach people about the reality of this issue. Rehabilitation is needed to help those suffering from substance abuse to prevent them from becoming a statistic.