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“In the US, 6 million girls and women abuse or are addicted to alcohol, 15 million use illicit drugs and misuse prescription drugs, and nearly 32 million smoke cigarettes.” —National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 2006.Why do problems with alcohol and substance abuse often begin during a major life transition? Think back to a period of transition in your life. Did you think of moving from adolescence into early adulthood, entering high school, going to college, or joining the work force? No matter which transition you selected, you likely remember the excitement and discomfort that often comes from starting down an unknown path.As girls grow and develop, the transitions they undergo frequently involve changes in the social environment that influence the risks of unhealthy behaviors. For example, a young teen who is seeking acceptance from her fellow students might be more inclined to submit to peer pressure. Choices made during these transition periods might lead to the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. This week you examine these transitional periods and explore how women may develop unhealthy patterns of substance abuse during them. Additionally, you look at how developmental theory may explain substance abuse in females.Reference: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (2006). Women under the influence. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins.

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