Pathways to Substance Abuse Among Girls and Young Women Ages 8-22

Early experimentation with substances can increase the likelihood of addiction in girls and young women. This report examines the reasons girls may use substances, as well as the effects of substance use on key transition periods in a girl’s life. Most importantly, it reveals vital opportunities for prevention and intervention during these key transitions.

Key Takeaways

This report found that girls and young women use cigarettes, alcohol and other substances for different reasons than boys, and that they are more vulnerable than boys to substance use, addiction and their consequences. Further, substance use can turn into addiction more quickly for girls and young women than for boys and young men, even when they use the same amount or less of a substance. Additional findings include the following:


Research Methods

This report relied on data from focus groups of pre-adolescent girls and their parents; a unique, longitudinal national survey of 1,220 girls and young women going through key life phases; analyses of data from three national data sets; an examination of the impact of substance use prevention programs among girls and young women; and a review of more than 1,000 publications.