There are obviously many differences between men and women, but one difference that most people are unaware of is the way in which each is affected by addiction. Women and men are physically different, but they are also different mentally as well.
The experience of addiction is often very different for men and women, which is why there are often gender-based treatments available to ensure that both sexes receive the optimum care.
How Addiction Affects Women
The reasons women start using drugs or alcohol in the first place tend to be very different to those of men. There are also differences in how these substances affect their bodies. And when it comes to getting treatment, the things women think about will not be the same as those considered by men. Below are a few examples of how women are affected by addiction:
- Women have a higher likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem than men after their first experience of drugs or alcohol.
- Women tend to start injecting drugs more quickly than men do.
- Women get drunk on smaller quantities of alcohol because their bodies process the alcohol differently than a man’s body.
- Women will be affected by alcohol-related illnesses after consuming much lower amounts than men. These can include heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease and cancer.
- Women have a higher chance of being affected by sexually transmitted diseases than men do after having unprotected sex while intoxicated.
- Female drug addicts and alcoholics are more likely to suffer from another type of addiction, such as an eating disorder.
Why Women Are Affected by Addiction
There are noticeable differences between the sexes when it comes to the reasons for abusing alcohol or drugs in the first place. Many women turn to alcohol and drugs because of a traumatic event that they experienced in their past. Childhood abuse, domestic violence or the death of a loved one can all raise the risk of addiction for women. In fact, over two-thirds of females with an alcohol or drug problem will have experienced some form of abuse in their lives.
Low self-esteem and depression are also more likely to be causes of addiction in women. However, many women turn to these substances simply because their partner abuses drugs or alcohol. Relationships tend to impact a woman’s use of chemical substances. Those who live with drug or alcohol abusers are more likely to follow suit. Females that inject drugs tend to have been introduced to this by a sexual partner.
Loneliness can also be a factor; there is a higher chance of a woman turning to alcohol or drugs if she lives alone. Those who are separated, divorced and who have no children or grown up children are more likely to be substance abusers.
Dealing with Addiction
Getting help for addiction is another issue where differences occur between men and women. Female addicts and alcoholics tend to face more stigma than their male counterparts so, which means that many women will not reach out for help. If a female is affected by addiction but is getting no support from those around her, she is much less likely to admit to having a problem or to seek help from an outside source.
Women also have other issues to consider in terms of treatment for addiction, especially if they have children. Male addicts do not usually think about who is going to care for the children when they are entering treatment; it is typically a given that the children will be cared for by their mother or another female relative.
Nevertheless, women often delay getting treatment because they feel there is no one to support them, and they worry about the welfare of their children.