What is substance abuse?

  • According to the DSM IV, substance abuse is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as manifested by:
         Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, home1        
         Recurrent use in situations in which is it physically hazardous1   
         Recurrent use related legal problems1     
         Use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the substance1      


Why is substance abuse in women important?

  • Women make up 30% of the addicted population in The United States
  • Women who use substances are less likely to receive adequate healthcare or prenatal care2, 3
  • Estimates of substance use in women are likely underestimated secondary to fear of prosecution or perception of social stigma4
  1. American Psychiatric Association (2000).  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition.  Retrieved November 1, 2010 from University of Maryland Baltimore Library website:​
  2. Haves, J.R. et al (2009).  Factors associated with substance use during pregnancy: Results from a national sample. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 99. 89-95. 
  3. Wendell, A.D (2013). Overview and epidemiology of substance abuse in pregnancy. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology 56. 91-96.
  4. Van Gelder, M. et al (2010).  Characteristics of Pregnant Illicit Drug Users and Associations between Cannabis and Perinatal Outcome in a Population Based Study [Electronic Version].  Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 109, 243-247. 

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January, 2014