How Addiction Differs for Men and Women

Everyone knows that men and women are different both physically and emotionally. But now, medical specialists have realised that when it comes addiction, men and women should be treated differently as well. It used to be the case that healthcare professionals assumed that men and women were affected in the same way by substance abuse, but after years of studies and research, it is now apparent that the physical and mental requirements of men and women differ significantly.

The sexes experience life in vastly different ways, and they also experience addiction and recovery differently. That is why may clinics offer gender-based treatments. In terms of addiction, there are often different reasons why men and women begin drinking or taking drugs. How they are affected by addiction also differs, as do the various issues that they consider when thinking about getting treatment.

The Differences

  • Men are less likely to move on to substance abuse after their first experience with drugs or alcohol than women are.
  • Women tend to progress to injecting drugs much more quickly than men do.
  • Women are smaller in general and drink tends to affect them quicker than it does men – women will get drunk more quickly than men would on the same amount of alcohol.
  • Women are more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases while under the influence of alcohol or drugs than men are.
  • Women alcoholics are more likely to develop health problems at lower alcohol consumption levels than men are. These health problems include high blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease, heart problems and cancers such as mouth, throat or oesophagus.
  • Women addicts are more likely to suffer from other forms of addiction, such as eating disorders.
  • Women can have the added complication of being pregnant while addicted and the complications that can arise for the foetus such as foetal alcohol syndrome, drug addiction, low birth weight, stillbirth, miscarriage, and premature birth.

Reasons Women Become Addicted

There is no exact cause of addiction for men or women but women are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol because of a traumatic event such as childhood abuse or domestic violence. Women who have suffered sexual abuse at a young age are likely to experience depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, which can all lead to substance abuse at an early age.

Many women are influenced by their romantic relationships, too. They are more likely to try drugs or drink alcohol if a partner does so. If they live with a drug user, there is a higher chance that they too will begin to abuse drugs. Women are more likely to inject drugs if they are introduced to it by a partner.

Women who work in male-dominated professions are also more liable to develop alcohol addictions as they try to keep up with their male colleagues. Some feel the need to prove they can drink as much as their male co-workers, which can lead to addiction problems.

Stigma of Addiction

Even though much more is known about addiction these days, there is still a certain stigma attached to it and, unfortunately, more so for women. Women are judged more harshly than men are for succumbing to addiction and they tend to receive less support from family members.

When it comes to treatment, women have many more issues to think about than men do. They tend to worry about who will take care of the children or the home, which can often result in them failing to get the help they need. Men tend not to worry about these issues as much.

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