Article | March 2018

Drinking, Drugs, and Women

Alcohol and substance use disorder can seriously impact women's lives

Many people have trouble dealing with alcohol or drugs. But women have some special risk factors that make them more vulnerable. Some women may feel helpless or reluctant to seek help. Some women are chemically dependent. Others are codependent. This means they're trying to care for and control a chemically dependent person. There are programs for codependent and chemically dependent women. These programs can help them build happier and more confident lives.

What's the impact?

Alcohol and substance use can seriously impact women's lives. If a woman abuses alcohol or drugs, she could face:

  • Ruined relationships, as family and friends lose love and trust for her
  • Job loss
  • Health problems, including liver disease and infertility
  • Accidents or car crashes
  • Permanent birth defects or other problems in her unborn child

Drugs and Pregnancy

When a pregnant woman drinks or takes drugs, her baby pays the price. Alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, street drugs, and even over-the-counter medicine can all be harmful, even in very small doses. Recent research shows that smoking tobacco or marijuana, taking prescription pain relievers, or using illegal drugs during pregnancy is associated with double or even triple the risk of stillbirth.There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.2 


Keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the risks of alcohol and substance use disorder:

  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant? Avoid alcohol and drugs. And ask your doctor before using over-the-counter or prescription medicines.
  • Having trouble controlling your drug use? Get help from 12-step programs or health providers who are familiar with women’s dependency issues.
  • Do you need child care, financial help, job training, or emergency shelter? Help is out there. Try your healthcare provider, 12-step program office, or local women’s center. They can connect you with programs that offer the help you need.

Cigna Can Help

If you have coverage through Cigna, we are available by phone at 1 (877) 622-4327 any time to help you understand what services are available to support you during this time.

African woman sleeping at home

1 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Use While Pregnant and Breastfeeding, accessed July 15, 2021

2 Alcohol Use in Pregnancy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 24, 2021,

This material is provided by Cigna for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice. Only a health care provider can make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment plan. For more information about your behavioral health benefits, you can call the member services or behavioral health telephone number listed on your health care ID card.