Women with Substance Abuse Problems in Sweden

"Drug users, both men and women, are often unemployed, homeless and frequently at the margins of society. Moreover, female drug users most often have less social support and a worse mental health compare to male regular drug users. Most research does not differentiate between genders in their analyses and focus is usually on the male subjects. Women normally make up 20 - 35 % of the subjects in most published studies; however, women often have a more serious addiction. It was assumed that men and women have similar patterns in terms of abuse and experiences. The similarities are evident in terms of unemployment, homelessness and social exclusion. However, men more often than women earn their livelihood illegally (Byqvist, 2006).
"The use of drugs does not necessarily lead to criminal activity, although, there is a link between drugs and criminality. It can result from the direct production and distribution activities in the drug trade, or criminality committed under the influence of drugs. However, female criminals have a dual problem with drug abuse; the hardship associated with imprisonment and the difficulties associated with drug abuse in connection with motherhood. Furthermore, many women in addiction live in abusive relationships. In a recent study, which mapped the social situation among Swedish drug addicts it is indicated that there are several hardships in the everyday lives of drug abusing women. More so, compared with earlier research, the social circumstances of drug users seem to have worsened (Byqvist, 2006).
"A study of women injecting heroin (Richert, Månsson, & Laanemets, 2011) shows that they have a worse situation compared with amphetamine users, e.g. when it comes to housing and lack of legal/formal source of incomes. This implies that heroin addicts, in general, are more socially excluded. To a higher extent heroin addicts also have experiences of all types of treatment (op.cit.). Several factors were significantly related to a request for help, whereas heroin as principal drug was the single factor showing a significant positive relation to request for help in statistical analyse. This could be explained by differences in treatment available for the two groups. To this day there is no evidence-based treatment for amphetamine abuse. Treatment options for heroin abuse, on the other hand, are well documented and recognized (op.cit.)."


Swedish National Institute of Public Health. "2013 National Report (2012 data) to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point: Sweden: New Developments, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues." Östersund: Swedish National Institute of Public Health, 2013, pp. 75-76.