Differences in addiction between men and women. For many decades, studies in addiction and rehab only studied the effects on men. This led to a massive gap in what we know about addiction in men and addiction in women.
In recent years, research has slowly begun to fill in those gaps, but it will still be decades before there is a hope of having the depth of knowledge about addiction in women that we have of addiction in men.
However, below are five crucial differences in addiction between men and women.
Differences in Addiction Between Men and Women
Susceptibility to Substance Abuse and Addiction
Typically, men are more likely to abuse illicit drugs and alcohol – 11.5% of males over 12 have a substance use disorder, compared to 6.4% of females. Men are also more likely to start using drugs or alcohol due to peer pressure or in order to be part of a group.
Women are, however, more susceptible to substance dependence and chemical addiction and tend to fall into addiction at a faster rate than men. Women are also more likely to self-medicate using drugs or alcohol.
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Use of Depressants
There are a wide variety of depressants that are commonly used and that can become a potential addiction when used poorly. Historically, men were more likely to become addicted to alcohol, while women were more likely to be prescribed and then become addicted to opioids and prescription pills.
In recent years, however, about an equal number of women use alcohol, while more men than women abuse prescription opioids. Some research suggests that women may be more likely to have chronic pain and be more likely to self-medicate for pain or anxiety.
Women also become more quickly addicted to opioids because of heightened dopamine response in women. Still, men are overall more likely to overdose and fatally overdose than women.
Use of Stimulants
Like with depressants, men and women both use stimulants at a similar rate. There are, however, significant differences in how they tend to use stimulants. Most men report using stimulants such as meth and cocaine for recreational reasons, and this is likely why men are more likely than women to overdose within the first year of using stimulants.
Women, on the other hand, report using stimulants primarily for energy, particularly for work and family responsibilities, and for weight loss. This lowers women’s risk of overdosing within the first year, but women are also more likely to become addicted rather than simply abusing the drugs and are less likely to seek help for stimulant abuse.
Women are, however, more likely to complete and succeed in treatment for meth than men are.
Rehab and Recovery
Professionally guided rehab is essential for anyone seeking to recover from substance addiction or abuse. There are, however, a few essential differences between men and women during the rehab and recovery process.
While men tend to stabilize at lower amounts of the substance they are addicted to, they are also more likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms, making professional help even more essential.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer from long-term effects of substance abuse such as liver damage as well as being more likely to overdose.
Risk of Relapse
The risk of relapse is also different between men and women. Sober living for men is evidently easier to maintain, with men experiencing longer periods of sobriety and less risk of relapse (a deterioration in someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement).
Women, on the other hand, are far more likely to experience intense cravings that could lead to a relapse. This is because of the more intense hormone cycle associated with women’s menstrual cycles, which intensifies cravings and makes it more difficult to maintain sobriety (the state of being sober).
While not all is known about the differences in substance abuse between men and women, research in this subject is rapid and growing every year. These five differences in addiction between men and women is only the beginning of what will be discovered with continued research.