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Women and gender issues in drug use

 

Women and gender issues in drug use

Women looking out a windowUnderstanding gender issues in drug use and drug addiction in Europe is a critical requirement to developing effective responses. In Europe, up to a quarter of people who have developed serious problems related to illicit drug use are women. On this page you can find links to various EMCDDA outputs on this topic as well as links to external resources.

Introduction

Understanding gender issues in drug use and drug addiction in Europe is a critical requirement to developing effective responses. In Europe, up to a quarter of people who have developed serious problems related to the use of illegal drug use are women. Approximately one in four drug users entering drug treatment are female and one in five deaths directly related to drug use are among women. The EMCDDA has been monitoring and reporting on drug-related gender issues since 1995.

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Meetings and events

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Women and drugs — EMCDDA extended Reitox network meeting, 24 November 2015, Lisbon

This meeting brings together all EU Reitox member countries (plus Norway and Turkey), national drug observatories and national correspondents from candidate, potential candidate and neighbouring countries, and from Russia. It focuses on a question of potential interest for national drug observatories from all countries: what do we know about women using illicit drugs, what are the gaps in our knowledge, and what are the consequences for the monitoring of the situation and the organisation of responses?.

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Publications

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Pregnancy and opioid use: strategies for treatment (EMCDDA Papers, 2014)

Illicit opioid consumption during pregnancy brings with it the risk of an increase in obstetric complications for the mother and a range of potential dangers for the child, both before and after birth. The primary goal when treating opioid dependence in pregnant women is to stabilise the patient and psychosocially assisted opioid substitution treatment is the preferred first-line therapy for this group.

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Pregnancy, childcare and the family: key issues for Europe’s response to drugs (Selected issues, 2012)

This Selected issue gives a broad overview on the extent of, and available responses to, the problems of pregnant drug users and families that are affected by drug use. In the first part of the report, a description of the available data on the extent of drug use during pregnancy and associated risks is followed by a review of responses to drug use among pregnant women across Europe. The second part of the publication focuses on children living in the care of drug users.

screenshot of Women's voices thematic paper

Women's voices (Thematic paper, 2009)

Epidemiological studies routinely collect quantitative data on gender differences in drug use (e.g. prevalence, mortality), but far less is published on the qualitative aspects of female drug problems. This review presents quotations gleaned from interviews with women in eight countries. Through these testimonies, the report illustrates how qualitative research can provide glimpses into the experiences and perceptions of women facing drug issues that statistics alone cannot provide.

screenshot of Sexual assaults facilitated by drugs or alcohol

Sexual assaults facilitated by drugs or alcohol (Technical datasheet, 2008)

In the past 10 years, there has been a rise in the number of reports of drugs and alcohol being used to immobilise victims for the purpose of sexual assault. Population surveys carried out in six EU countries suggest that up to 20 % of women experience some form of sexual assault in their adult lifetime. A lack of appropriate monitoring systems means that the full scale of drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) remains unknown. Better monitoring of the phenomenon is an essential first step in addressing the problem.

screenshot of publication 'A gender perspective on drug use and responding to drug problems'

A gender perspective on drug use and responding to drug problems (Selected issue, 2006)

The influence of gender — not only on patterns and levels of drug consumption in Europe but also on how responses to drug problems are planned and implemented —  is explored in this Selected issue. Based on a scientific analysis of the available data, it concludes that policymakers, professionals and scientists must always take gender into consideration in the planning of research, analysis, interventions and policy in the drugs field.

screenshot of publication 'Differences in patterns of drug use between women and men'

Differences in patterns of drug use between women and men (Technical datasheet, 2005)

Gender differences in patterns of drug use are addressed in this technical paper. According to the paper, men in the EU are still more likely than women to use illicit drugs. But there are concerns around possible signs of a ‘narrowing of the gap’ between male and female drug use, and greater similarities in lifetime drug-taking experience, particularly among school students. The paper analyses data from three sources: ESPAD school surveys (1995, 1999, 2003); general population surveys; and drug treatment centres.

screenshot of publication 'Problems facing women drug users and their children'

Problems facing women drug users and their children (Selected issue, 2000)

This selected issue, published as part of the Annual report 2000, looks at problems facing women drug users and their children. The issues examined include: drug use among women; infectious diseases; pregnancy and women with children; drug treatment and; women-specific drug prevention.

 

 

Page last updated: Tuesday, 08 March 2016