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Men, Women and Addiction: Stats and Facts

Addiction is a disease that affects all of us. Both men and women can battle addiction, but there are gender differences with drug use. These quick facts about drug abuse and addiction among the sexes offer a sobering look at how men and women differ in substance use.

Women and Addiction

RISKS OF ADDICTION

  • Women suffer more from anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders that can increase the likelihood of drug and/or alcohol abuse.
  • Studies suggest that women are more susceptible to the rewarding effects of stimulants. It’s believed estrogen may intensify the effects.
  • Women who abuse methamphetamines have an increased risk of co-occurring depression.
  • Women tend to develop stronger addictions to methamphetamines compared to men.
  • MDMA produces strong hallucinogenic effects in women.
  • Women are more likely than men to die from intaking too much fluid after MDMA use.
  • Women develop a dependency on marijuana more quickly compared to men; however, their dependence is typically less severe.
  • Rape, physical violence, and stalking by an intimate partner are risk factors for substance abuse in women.
  • Women who are addicted to marijuana are more likely to have panic attacks.
  • Women who inject heroin are more likely to die of an overdose in the first few years of use compared to men.

REHAB AND ADDICTION TREATMENT

  • Research supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that women are less likely to seek treatment for their addiction. However, women typically have better outcomes after treatment.
  • Effective rehab for women should provide options so women can overcome barriers that keep them from seeking treatment. The identified barriers include economic limitations, family responsibilities, and embarrassment.
  • Some studies have also shown that women have stronger craving and are more prone to relapse than men.
  • Women are typically more receptive to treatment for methamphetamines than men.
  • After stopping MDMA use women are more likely to experience depression, however both sexes may also exhibit aggression.

MOST PREVALENT DRUG USE

  • The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 7.3% of females aged 12 and older were currently using an illicit drug.
  • Women use heroin less than men, but those who do begin using at an earlier age.
  • Women are less likely to inject heroin than men. Most have reported pressure from a sexual partner for the reason they injected the drug.
  • More women who inject heroin also abuse prescription drugs compared to their male counterparts.
  • Women are more likely to use opioids without a prescription for pain management.
  • On average women begin using methamphetamines at an earlier age than men.
  • More women than men use methamphetamines for weight loss, to escape, get high, for fun, because friends use, for energy and to stay awake.
  • Marijuana use is up dramatically among women; however, women still use marijuana less than men.
  • Approximately 4 million women a year report abusing pain medications.
  • Although women are less likely to abuse pain medications than they are more likely to misuse sleeping pills. Fifty-five percent of people who report abusing barbiturates are women.

Men and Addiction

RISKS OF ADDICTION

  • Men have a higher risk of overdosing than women.
  • Men are more likely to develop a severe addiction to marijuana, possibly because men tend to feel a stronger high during use.
  • Males who use marijuana are also at an increased risk for at least one other mental health issue, which could complicate treatment.
  • Men who are addicted to marijuana have a higher rate of other substance abuse.
  • Research suggests men may be susceptible to damage cocaine inflicts on the brain compared to women.

REHAB AND ADDICTION TREATMENT

  • Men report feeling less shame and embarrassment about getting addiction treatment compared to women.
  • Rates for seeking treatment for marijuana use is very low among men.
  • Studies suggest that men are more likely to use specialized addition treatment, whereas women utilize medical services for substance abuse.

MOST PREVALENT DRUG USE

  • Overall, men are more likely to use illicit drugs compared to women in all age groups. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 12% of males aged 12 and older were currently using an illicit drug.
  • Men are much more likely to inject heroine than women.
  • Men also use larger doses of heroine and for longer periods of time.
  • Males are more likely to suffer from alcohol addiction and binge drink than their female counterparts.
  • More men than women use methamphetamines: to work more, for sex, as drug replacement and to experiment.
  • Men are more likely than women to abuse prescription pain (opioid) medications. Annually 5 million men abuse pain prescription drugs.

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