Woman of substances : a journey into drugs, alcohol and treatment / Jenny Valentish.

  • Valentish, Jenny
  • Books

About this work


"Journalist Jenny Valentish investigates the female experience of drugs and alcohol, using her own story to light the way. Her travels around Australia take her to treatment facilities and AA groups. Mining the expertise of leading researchers, she explores the early predictors of addiction, such as childhood trauma and temperament, and teenage impulsivity. Drawing on neuroscience, she explains why other self-destructive behaviours – such as eating disorders, compulsive buying and high-risk sex – are interchangeable with problematic substance use. Valentish follows the pathways that women, in particular, take into addiction – and out again. Woman of Substances is an insightful, rigorous and brutally honest read."--From publisher.


London : Head of Zeus, 2019.

Physical description

xviii, 364 pages ; 20 cm


Second edition, paperback edition.


Originally published: London: Head of Zeus, 2018.


Introduction -- Part One: Predictors of a problem -- 1. The petri dish of you: how childhood temperament can foreshadow substance use -- 2. Chaos theory: impulsivity, and how it escapes detection in teenage girls -- 3. Baby misogynist: hitching identity to drink, drugs and men -- Part two: Gendered adventures in addiction -- 4. Total control: self-destruction as a method of autonomy -- 5. Amateur alchemy: self-medicating mental illness and tweaking personality -- 6. A crude form of seduction: the sugar-daddy mentoring scheme of drugs -- 7. Pretty intense: promiscuity, borderline personality disorder and other labels that only come in pink -- 8. Collateral damage: blacking out, passing out, spiking ... and the opportunists who dig it -- 9. Body of evidence: the effects of substances on the female body and vice versa -- 10. Your brain as a pokie machine: other risky behaviours that hit the dopamine jackpot -- 11. The geographical: running away to the edge of the world and falling off -- Part three: Woman's lib -- 12. 52 observations: a week-by-week account of my first year after quitting -- 13. A word from my sponsor: the female spaces in AA and NA -- 14. Keeping mum: when addiction infiltrates the family home -- 15. A call to arms: how drug and alcohol research can fail women -- 16. Choose your own adventure: eight ideas for emancipation you way -- Acknowledgements -- Selected reading.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references.


Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9781788541640
  • 1788541642