Addiction affects men and women differently. For many decades, the effects of substance abuse have only been examined in men, leading to a distorted view as to how it affects people in general. Here are some of the things you should know when it comes to substance abuse and the effect it has on men and women.
The Statistics of Substance Abuse
When it comes to substance abuse in men, they are more likely to abuse alcohol and illicit drugs. About 11.5% of men over the age of twelve tend to have a substance abuse disorder. For women, that percentage is 6.4%. However, women are more likely to go to the emergency room or tend to fatally overdose from substance abuse.
Many of these differences have to do with social expectations (such as having children, being employed, relationship dynamics, et cetera), while other differences can be attributed to biological differences such as the production of testosterone and estrogen.
Differences in Susceptibility
Between men and women, men are more likely to become addicts. They are also more likely to abuse substances due to peer pressure or to feel like they belong to a group.
Women are more likely to transition from substance abuse to substance dependence and addiction. This transition also takes place at a faster pace. Women are also more likely to self-medicate with illicit substances.
Differences In Recovery
Men are more likely to stabilize their substance abuse at lower doses than women. When it comes to alcohol withdrawal, men tend to experience more intense symptoms than women.
Women are more likely to suffer from the side effects of substance abuse and overdose, such as liver damage, for example.
Differences in Risk Of Relapse
Men have a lower risk of relapse, that is longer periods of abstinence, than women. Women are more likely to experience intense cravings and have higher rates of relapse.
Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States. Men have, historically, higher rates of alcohol use disorder, but recent studies have shown that women’s drinking habits have gotten closer to their male counterparts. There are also higher rates of underage drinking and binge drinking in women between the ages of 12 and 20.
Women are generally more sensitive to pain and will experience chronic pain more often than men. This leads to the increased use of opioids in order to deal with this pain, leading to their misuse. Women also tend to develop a dependence on opioids faster than men due to a higher dopamine response in the brain.
In terms of cocaine and meth use, both sexes are equally likely to abuse both substances, though women report that they start using at a much younger age than men. Women tend to experience more cravings and are more likely to relapse due to the changes in their hormone production and menstrual cycle. Despite these differences in addiction between men and women, seeking any kind of help or recovery could end up saving a person’s life. If someone you know is going through addiction, don’t hesitate to contact a treatment provider today to get them the help they need.