A recent report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University revealed that drug use by women and young girls has increased. The report also indicated that women and young girls ages 8 to 22 use drugs for different reasons than males and are at a higher risk for heavy use.  Drug use by women and young girls tends to be associated with depression, low self-esteem, lack of a support system, loneliness, and peer pressure.

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug, especially among female teens and, according to a 2010 report by the American Osteopathic Association, more than half of female high school seniors had used marijuana. Cocaine, ecstasy and prescription drugs are the most abused substances among women ages 20 and older.

Drug use is commonly associated with women who are in the criminal justice system. More than half of the women in state prisons and nearly half of the women in federal prisons used drugs prior to their incarceration. According to HARM Reduction International there are more than a half million females (women and girls) incarcerated around the world for drug related offenses.

There are many different options for women and young girls who need help for substance use including 12 step programs, community based programs, church organizations, inpatient programs, treatment programs and alternative programs.

Most of the community based programs, church programs, inpatient  programs and treatment programs use a 12 step program. Twelve step programs promote the scientifically discredited theory that substance use is a disease and there is no cure. For the female who is already struggling with low self-esteem, depression, and feelings that she is all alone in the world, the last thing she should hear is that she is powerless and her situation is hopeless!

Twelve step programs require members to participate in group therapy and attend meetings that use no confidence building techniques, but rather that teach these women and young girls that they will never be able to overcome their substance use problem and will be addicts for the rest of their lives.

Alternatives to 12 step programs include a holistic approach that uses techniques such as acupuncture, vitamin therapy, meditation therapy, equine or horse therapy, yacht therapy  and yoga to build confidence and self-esteem. None of these or similar techniques have ever proven to be effective.

The non-religious, non-profit St. Jude Retreats provide a non-treatment program that uses cognitive behavioral education to help guests use self-assessment to reevaluate decisions and choices about their drug use. Guests learn that by making choices that are more productive and by supporting those choices with habits and behaviors that are more positive, they are able to have a happy life permanently without drug use.

Independently conducted evaluations certify that the program enjoys a long term success rate of at least 62% compared to the 5% of the typical 12 step program.