How Substance Abuse Differs Between Men & Women

How Substance Abuse Differs Between Men & Women

Substance abuse affects men and women differently. It’s important to recognize these differences, as they can impact the type of Phoenix addiction treatment delivered. For example, women have unique barriers to treatment such as not having a job or insurance, being responsible for their children or having a history of sexual or physical assault.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is conducting research to better understand how sex/gender affects addiction. For now, here is what we know about substance abuse and gender.

How Men and Women Use Drugs

For all types of illicit drugs, men are more likely than women to use drugs, suffer an overdose and visit the emergency room. Although men in most age groups have higher rates of dependence than women, women are just as likely to develop a substance use disorder. Women may also be more likely to suffer from cravings and relapse, making it harder to find success after rehab in Phoenix.

Let’s look at specific drugs and how they are used by men and women.

  • Marijuana. More males use marijuana than females. However, research shows that marijuana impairs spatial memory in women more than men, whereas men have greater highs.
  • Stimulants. Research shows that women may be more likely to get hooked on stimulants, possibly because of estrogen and its effects on the reward system. Also, stimulants can be appealing to women because they decrease fatigue associated with work, child care, household chores, etc.
  • Heroin. Research shows that women generally use smaller amounts of heroin and for less time. They are also less likely to inject it, but have a higher risk for overdosing on the drug than men in the first years of using.
  • Prescription opioids. Some research suggests that women are more sensitive to pain than men and more apt to having chronic pain. They are also more likely to abuse prescription medications to treat anxiety and tension.
  • Anti-anxiety medications. Women are more likely to seek treatment for anxiety and sleep disorders. Sadly, women have an increased risk than men to die from overdoses from drugs that treat mental health conditions.
  • Alcohol. Generally speaking, men have higher rates of alcohol use. Surprisingly, young adults are an exception. Girls 12-20 years old have slightly higher rates of alcohol abuse than males. Additionally, alcohol is more likely to damage a woman’s health due to the way alcohol is metabolized in the body.

As you can see, sex/gender does have an impact on substance abuse. We look forward to learning more about these findings and how to best approach drug treatment for males and females.

Continuum Recovery Center offers holistic treatment for both men and women. Call us today to learn more about our programs.

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