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Connection Between Gender and Addiction

The Connection Between Gender and Addiction

Posted: September 28, 2020 by in Hope Recovery Addiction Center


A drug doesn’t care who you are. It will act on your body however it’s meant to function. However, studies have frequently shown that differences in substance abuse between men and women play a large role in gender and addiction recovery.

One gender may be more likely to abuse certain substances versus another. As an example, women are more likely to abuse appetite suppressant drugs than men due to societal pressure. However, for some of the same reasons, men are more likely to engage in long-term alcohol abuse.

Biologically speaking, men and women also differ in how specific drugs affect their bodies and how likely they are to become addicted or have trouble quitting a substance.

Recovery from substance addiction is not a simple process, and most people are unable to do it alone. If you have questions about possible substance abuse or you’d like some guidance for treatment, please reach out to us at (918) 779-0011 today. We’ll help find a process and an appropriate program that works for you.


Drugs can impact anyone at any time. Keep reading below for more information about what to do if you, or someone in your life, are suffering from addiction. Contact us today if you require additional support.

Marijuana Addiction and the Best Treatment

Common Drugs That Impact Women

While any person can get hooked on any drug, research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that women may react differently to certain substances.

  • Cocaine – Studies find that women are statistically more likely to use cocaine and use it in large doses than men. This study is a link to a higher sensitivity in a woman’s blood vessels and the heart.
  • Methamphetamine – Since methamphetamines can suppress appetite and induce weight loss, they tend to pose a higher likelihood of abuse in women versus men.
  • Prescription Opioids – The NIDA finds that women are more likely to have chronic pain at some point in their lives, so dispensing prescriptions is more common. In particular, women between the ages of 45 and 54 are more likely to use prescription drugs than any other age group in their gender.
  • Alcohol – Females between the ages of 12 and 20 tend to misuse alcohol more than males of their age. They are also subject to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and liver problems than men.  Even suicide rates are statistically higher among women. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of contracting breast cancer.

Three critical biological components also play into women’s addiction rates: lower body water ratio, more fatty tissue, and lower enzyme levels. Combined, these result in substances entering their bloodstream faster and the body retaining the substance for long periods.

You may even wonder which gender has more addictive personalities, and studies reveal that women are more susceptible to behaving in an addictive manner. However, this involves not just substance use but also other facets of life where obsessiveness can be detrimental to a person’s health.

In short, understanding how gender differences in substance abuse affect you personally can go a long way toward a successful recovery.

Additional Risks For Women

Other outside influences can leave women more susceptible to substance abuse issues than men. They might be environmental or social influences—also, any biological differences.

Any person who has experienced childhood sexual abuse and trauma is automatically at a higher risk. For women, these experiences render them three times more likely to use substances.

In addition, women are also more likely to have issues with addictive medication. They tend to address mood and mental disorders like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder more consistently than men. Unfortunately, the easier a person’s access to potentially addictive medication, the more likely they are to misuse or abuse it. Prescription med abuse can also serve as a gateway to street drugs like cocaine or heroin to achieve the same effects.

Detrimental societal norms and expectations also play a significant role in addiction-related to women. Generally, they face more pressure in terms of body image or need to maintain a certain weight. Stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines suppress appetite and boost energy levels, and people will abuse them frequently. As with any other drug, the adverse, long-term side effects significantly outweigh any short-term, beneficial results.

Women are also more likely to engage in “partner bonding,” where they start doing a drug or amplify their drug use based on their partner’s actions.

Sometimes pressures and triggers that cannot be scientifically quantified are the biggest motivators in a person’s drug use. Gender and addiction can be tricky to address. In particular, women may struggle with different reasons for use than men, but the unhealthy results of active addiction remain the same.

If you are a woman and are struggling with addiction, then call us today. Our experts will help you get the treatment you deserve. You do not need to suffer alone. Start your new life now.

Alcohol Abuse Among Men

Excessive drinking and long-term addiction to alcohol are rampant in males.

One study shows that nearly 58 percent of men reported drinking within the previous 30 days, while 23 percent reported binge drinking five or more times a month. The average “binge” consisted of eight or more drinks consumed. About 4.5 percent of men in the U.S. meet the criteria to be alcohol dependent.

Because of alcohol abuse, men are more likely to suffer side-consequences of their addiction. Men are more likely to be injured or killed in an alcohol-related incident than women. They are also more prone to driving while intoxicated, which has proven fatal on countless occasions.

There is also a higher chance of men committing physical or sexual assault while actively drinking. As a depressant, alcohol lowers inhibitions and can chemically cause an increase in self-confidence levels and bolster aggressive tendencies. It is an ugly combination that often leads to dark places.

Alcohol-Specific Risks

If a man is using alcohol at an excessive level, he is at risk of developing a testicular issue and reducing hormone production. This risk can impact impotence and fertility, as well as other physical conditions.

Alcohol abuse is also a leading cause of cancer in men. Long-term addiction can contribute to cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.

While men certainly abuse other substances, alcohol is the most dangerous substance to the male gender’s overall health. Its image as a “socially acceptable” form of substance abuse often paints a pretty picture over what is ultimately a tragic disorder.

Substance Treatment Differences Based on Gender

Treatment methods for men and women can vary, depending on the substance of choice and the person’s biological and sociological conditions. Gender and addiction are now motivating factors in a person’s use.

However, with the proper treatment, overcoming any addiction is possible. But first, you need to accept that you have a problem and seek out help. Statistically, women are less likely to seek treatment than men, but numbers have increased over the last decade. Men are more like to seek help for heroin abuse than women, but those numbers are leveling out as well.

A possible factor in women entering treatment less often than men is that due to their physical biology, addictions tend to have a shorter lifespan. At the same time, by the time some women decide to seek treatment, they may be medically, psychologically, and socially at a disadvantaged point.

Things like childcare and family situations also play a role in who gets treatment and who doesn’t. Women who start treatment while pregnant or with a young child face a higher likelihood of dropping out of a program.  The sociological role of gender and addiction recovery is being studied at increasing levels to reduce the harmful effects of family life on an addict’s recovery.

It does not matter who you are or what you are battling. Because we are here to help. Call our experts today and discover what tools you need to start living your best life.

Moving Forward With Treatment

It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female; substance abuse is a widespread problem, and everyone should see it as a severe issue. Gender can influence the severity of symptoms and how well treatment goes but is only a larger picture.

No substance is immune from abuse just because of your gender. However, it’s essential to identify which drugs you might be more susceptible to or face worse long-term effects.

Asking for help is never easy. Addiction to drugs and alcohol can be lonely–and at times frightening–experience. You may want to stop, but you have no idea how. Or, as is often the case, you may chalk up your substance use to “normal” or acceptable levels. Unfortunately, addiction is a disease of the mind, and you may brush away apparent signs of substance abuse because your brain is merely telling you to do so.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, contact us to start a recovery program tailored to you. Overcoming addiction is a challenge, and seeking professional help can make that challenge a little less intimidating.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions about substance abuse related to your gender and addiction or need a helping hand to get the recovery process going. Help is just a phone call away.

Written by Tristan Kutzer


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