Drug and Alcohol Abuse Shifts Attack to Women, Rural Areas

In the last few decades, we have seen drug abuse shift its epicenters from inner cities to metropolitan areas in general, and then to suburbs and small towns. Now, drug and alcohol abuse are targeting a new segment of the population: White women, particularly in rural areas.

Comprehensive research and interviewing by the Washington Post revealed the burden being borne by women in such areas as Southern Oklahoma, Northern Alabama and Bakersfield, California. Some of the statistics the news service cites are truly appalling. In 21 counties across the South and Midwest, the death rate for white women in midlife (45-54) has doubled or worse. For example, in Victoria County, Texas, situated between Houston and Corpus Christi, the death rate climbed from 216 per 100,000 to 583.

A mature woman holds a glass of wine.

Just four years ago, women could be expected to live eight years longer than men. Now, that difference in life expectancy has shrunk to five years. The Washington Post notes three factors that are reducing the longevity of white women in midlife: The opioid/heroin epidemic, heavy drinking and an increased number of suicides. What’s more, drug or alcohol abuse are often involved in suicides—among women, 34% of all suicides involved drug overdoses.

CDC Report in April Laid Out Original Numbers

A report on life expectancy changes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered part of the inspiration for the Washington Post’s coverage of this story. That April 2016 report noted that the life expectancy of non-Hispanic white female Americans dropped for the first time after many years of increase.

The causes for this increase could be endlessly debated and could be the subject of an endless number of scientific studies. Whether causative factors are isolated or not, it is a fact that deaths resulting from drug or alcohol abuse are preventable. But to prevent them, individuals must get the help they need to lead productive, enjoyable lives.

What it Takes to Leave Drugs and Alcohol Behind

The Washington Post report featured several profiles of women who struggled with heavy drinking or drug abuse. Not only these women suffered from this problem — many others in their homes or extended families did as well. Without the life skills to weather setbacks or heavy stress, problems in their difficult lives often drove these women to find refuge in substance abuse.

Recovering from addiction takes far more than just getting the intoxicants out of their bodies. As addiction takes over a person’s life, she harms those she loves. Maybe it’s neglect or loss of her children. Maybe she has stolen valuables from her family. It could also be that she took up drug dealing and harmed those she sold drugs to. Climbing all the way out of addiction requires recovering also from guilt and shame over what has been done.

Every addiction also involves trauma. There’s injuries, sickness and infections, and often accidents or abuse at the hands of other drug users. An individual must have a way to leave this trauma behind and recover the freshness and hope that a sober life offers.

For fifty years, the Narconon drug rehabilitation program has been helping women and men leave their troubled pasts behind in favor of a fresh, new and hopeful life. This recovery takes more than 30 days. In Narconon centers around the world, it may take two or three months. But it is time well spent to achieve a brighter outlook on one’s future, reduced cravings and stable life skills.

Contact Narconon Ojai today to learn how your loved one can recover from a troubled past and return to achievement of her full potential. Call today to learn how this program has helped tens of thousands of people leave drugs behind.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.