Despite the fact that much empirical evidence to connects addictions to pre-existing risk factors addiction is sometimes known as an equal opportunities illness, cutting across age, socio economic position, gender, and race. But the experience of addiction is not the same across the board and circumstances ad identity can certainly have an impact on how you experience addiction and recovery.

Are men more addiction prone than women?

At one time this did appear to be the case, but the gender gap is closing.  Men are more likely to pick up drugs earlier in life but once introduced, both men and women ae equally likely to go on to develop an addiction/continue using. Perhaps due to changing social codes, women have become one of the fastest growing populations of drug users.

Doe addiction follow the same pattern in both women and men?

Studies show that women get addicted to drugs, specifically opioidscannabis, and alcohol, faster than do men. Additionally, women experience an accelerated progression from the initiation of substance use to the onset of dependency.This means that despite having used less of a substance for a shorter period of time women often present in treatment with more medical, behavioral, and psychological difficulties than men.  

Do men and women get addicted for the same reasons?

Emotional, mental, and spiritual distress appears to be a motivator for addictionacross the board. Women are twice as likely to report suffering from anxiety and depression as men, it is debatable whether this is due to increased frequency of presentation as men are at much higher risk of suicide.  Stress is known to trigger substance abuse among both men and women, but research shows women may be more disposed to the harmful effects of stress and addiction than men

Experience of trauma can often be a trigger for drug abuse, this leaves women at much greater risk of addiction as they are by far the more likely victims of sexual and physical abuse. A history of violent trauma is more common among women with drug addiction, placing them at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. Women are more likely to be the victims of all forms of abuse as children  and as adults, and have had more exposure to incest, sexual abuse, and domestic violence.

It is debatable whether or not hormonal differences may play a part in addiction – A recent study found that estrogen can increase the possibility that females will start and continue using cocaine finding abstaining from the drug harder than it was for men. Another study found that menstrual cycle-dependent hormonal fluctuations can impact drug cravings in females. 

 Certainly there are shifting gender norms related to drinking.  The marketing of alcohol to women and the myriad ‘wine for mothers’ mentality of social media have likely contributed to addiction problems by removing the stigma attached to drinking while parenting, normalizing drinking as a coping mechanism and making it socially acceptable. Though it is becoming relatively  common practice, being drunk while in charge of young children is illegal because it is dangerous.

Doe the stigma of addiction affect men and women equally?

  Though gender norms in relation to getting intoxicated are shifting, the stigma attached to addiction whilst simultaneously being the primary care giver for children, may be keeping women from getting the help they need.

There is stigma attached to being a drunk or otherwise intoxicated woman much of this attached to perceptions around sexual activity and promiscuity. As the primary caretaker of young children, mothers are often reluctant to seek help before it is too late as they are afraid that the consequences of doing so might be that the children are removed from their care.

One study showed that 25 percent of pregnant women with an opioid addiction were untreated, researchers cited stigma as a significant part of the barrier to them receiving help.

Do men and women receive the same help?

Research shows that women are less likely to receive adequate substance abuse treatment or to seek the specialized care they need. This may be due to gender specific barriers to treatment – including family responsibilities, financial limitations, transportation issues, and stigma. Addressing issues of trauma related to abuse is very important to recovery for women – though such issues may be too painful to address in primary treatment. Some women may feel more comfortable in women only rehab centers. Gri

Categories: Addiction