5 Ways Addiction is Different for Women
While addiction is a struggle that can be faced by anyone in any walk of life, there are various differences in how it shows itself in men and women. Here are 5 ways that addiction is different for women.
1: The Causes
The underlying causes of addiction are statistically different for men and women. While men often use drugs and alcohol to increase positive moods, women are more likely to use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate for psychological problems or everyday social difficulties. Relationship difficulties, trauma, and family pressures are often a huge factor in women using drugs or alcohol in excess. This extends to women’s underlying psychological profiles since women are more likely to have underlying anxiety disorders or depression that they are attempting to cope with through drugs or alcohol.
2: The Drugs
Women and men tend to have different drugs of choice. Men are more likely to be addicted to nicotine, binge drink, and smoke marijuana daily or in excess. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to abuse opioids than men, and they are also more likely to start using stimulants at an early age than men. Women are also more likely to use nicotine and other stimulants to lose weight.
3: Ease of Addiction
While the likelihood of becoming addicted varies from person to person and relies heavily on an individual’s personality, there are appreciable differences between addiction responses for men and women. In general, men require more of a drug to get the desired effect, and therefore they tend to take longer to become addicted than women. Women, on the other hand, become intoxicated more easily and therefore usually develop an addiction more quickly than men.
In general, it seems that women are less likely to seek treatment for their addiction than men. The general addiction treatment model is also based on treating men, and therefore they can have an easier time getting access to help than women. Paradoxically, there have been studies done that show that women who do get access to treatment tend to do better more quickly than men, while men require longer treatment times. Whether this means that the general treatment model needs adjusting to help men more quickly or there is some underlying psychological reason for women to more quickly begin to recover, more research is certainly required.
5: Recovery Outcomes
A number of studies have shown that men have a 32% chance of relapse while women have a 22% chance of relapse. Men are more likely to die of an overdose in the process of relapsing and are less likely to go back into treatment after a relapse. Women have been shown to be more likely to continue their recovery with therapists and other counsellors after their addiction treatment has finished, which may be a significant factor in these better statistics for women than men. Addiction is always a chronic condition with no permanent cure, however, so there is no guarantee for either men or women that they will be able to maintain their sobriety after leaving treatment.
These differences in addiction between men and women show how important it is for treatment to be geared towards an individual. There is no universal treatment for all individuals, and gender differences is just one of the factors that has to be taken into account when making a treatment plan for someone hoping to recover from their addiction. Finding a dedicated women’s addiction treatment center or a therapist who specializes in addiction treatment for women is a good first step if you’re looking to get your life back from your addiction or the addiction of a loved one.