People deal with consequences and superficial results too often to notice that the underlying issue can and will cause further harm. Case in point: addiction and mental health. While it may seem noble to try to cheer someone up by taking them out for an evening, if the person is suffering from clinical depression, a few laughs will not whisk their troubles away. It’s necessary to dig deep and devote time and patience to find the root cause, the key reason that drives mental health issues and self-destructive behavior in someone we love.

It’s important to note that women experience these issues differently, hence the need to build a different approach when looking for the root causes in their self-destructive behavior patterns. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes that push women to substance abuse and cause a wide array of mental health issues.

When pain medication leads to addiction

Developing an addiction is a process that takes time, and as such, it doesn’t come out of nowhere, but it rather advances as a certain underlying issue persists. One of the most common situations that leads to women becoming addicted to a substance is, simply put, pain. Women that go to their doctors asking for help to handle chronic or acute pain often get various forms of treatment, but one of them involves opioids prescribed by the doctor. What may begin as a healing tool can turn into an unhealthy addiction.

Studies have shown that the prevalence of chronic pain, such as back pain or migraines, is much higher in women than in men. This simple discrepancy opens the door to a whole new topic: the women who for those very reasons use medication as pain relief and ultimately get addicted to the substances in question. To help women cope with physical as well as psychological pain and suffering, we need holistic healing tools that will serve as prevention mechanisms for addiction.

One such tool, a very effective one at that, can be meditation serving as a tool to treat and prevent addiction at the same time. Shown to reduce chronic pain significantly, meditation can be the foundation of a healing system for women struggling with pain and addiction alike.

Recognizing life-changing stressors

No matter the scope of causes, it’s also vital to note that more women experience certain mental health issues than men. This is especially relevant for various forms of anxiety, depression, but also eating disorders and PTSD, all of which are known culprits of addiction and are linked to more women using different substances such as drugs, alcohol, or tobacco to handle the burden of emotional turmoil.

Different stressors, such as losing a loved one, custody battles, and especially pregnancy are often at the basis of the mental health troubles and addiction that follow. Not only do we need specific programs and treatment such as rehab for pregnant women and therapy tailored to the root cause of addiction, but we also need to do our best to spot those stressors early on. Recognizing triggers and potential substance abuse early is not only easier to treat, but it can save the life and the health of the women who are pregnant at the time. Adding a range of healing methods such as meditation and behavioral therapy can help women face these difficult, challenging times better without relapsing.

Unhealthy relationships

Another fact that gives us a glimpse into why women resort to substance abuse and why they often deal with mental health issues is the frequency of intimate partner violence among women: they are five to eight times more likely than men to be hurt by their partners. In some of those cases, women are coerced into using alcohol or drugs, slowly turning it into an issue of addiction. In such instances, treating addiction alone will not lead to complete recovery, especially if a woman in question continues to struggle with the inflicted mental health damage.

Women in such situations cope with loss of confidence, self-love, they experience depression and anxiety, and a wide range of long-term disorders such as PTSD. Leaving them unresolved and untreated can result in a relapse into drug use and other self-destructive habits even when they manage to end the relationships that brought them harm. Joining support groups, empowering women to practice self-care even in the smallest instances before they can truly heal, and offering regular counselling is vital in addition to rehabilitation programs for addiction alone.

Hormonal balance

A surprising cause on this list, and yet a relevant one for women everywhere. It seems that our estrogen levels might be strongly linked to substance abuse, and a wide range of other troubles such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, levels of energy and motivation, and many others. That is why even a seemingly healthy, vibrant woman leading a healthy, balanced life can experience these symptoms before lapsing to drug abuse – and not looking into the underlying cause may prevent her medical team from ever discovering the right treatment for her.

In addition to rehabilitation treatment necessary to battle addiction, it’s key to find a way to restore your hormonal balance. You can combine a range of different solutions, from tweaking your diet plan, using healing essential oils in your routine, all the way to medical treatments that target specific hormones.

Healing takes time, and above all, understanding the real cause of our issues. Make sure to always listen to your body, and recognize symptoms that may lead to forming unhealthy habits or deteriorate your mental wellbeing, so as to do your best to tackle the cause, and not just the consequences.