There are many misconceptions about addiction and these often include how people perceive how a person’s gender may impact addiction and recovery. While anyone can become addiction to drugs, alcohol or process addictions there are a few gender related trends to take note of.
Men Are More Likely To Become Addicts Than Women
According to studies carried out males tend to start using drugs and alcohol at a much younger age than females. Males also tend to drink alcohol and use more drugs more frequently and in much higher quantities than females. Males are more likely to engage in binge drinking.
This does not necessarily mean that men are more susceptible to become addicts. Studies show that teenage males have more opportunity and are more exposed through their peer groups than females. It is often the case that teenage girls are first introduced to drugs by their male peers.
Women are in fact more likely to transition from substance abuse to dependence and addiction and they do so at a faster pace than men.
Death By Overdose
Men are more likely to die from an overdose than women. More than double men have died from overdosing on heroin and opioids than women and almost two thirds of the deaths by prescription opioids have been men.
Dual Diagnosis and Gender
While dual diagnosis is equally prevalent between men and women the types of mental health disorders differ. Men are much more likely to antisocial personality disorders and women tend to have affective disorders such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Detoxing, Recovery and Relapse
Men are more likely to have more intense alcohol withdrawal than women. Women are more likely to experience physical side effects of addiction (such as liver damage) and overdose.
Men are less likely to relapse and have a better chance at long term sobriety than women. Women report more intense cravings and are more likely to relapse than men.
Types Of Drugs
Men are more likely to abuse a variety of illegal drugs such as anabolic steroids, methamphetamines, heroin, LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, opioids and molly. Women are more likely to abuse prescription medications than men.
In general women are more likely to have an eating disorder than men. Women are more likely to suffer from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa while men with eating disorders are more likely to be overeaters.
Women are more likely to be dissatisfied with their weight and engage in dieting for weight control and purging.
When it comes to sex addiction men are physical and men are emotional. Men tend to obsess over sex and objectify women. Men tend to get involved in sexual behaviors that are not emotional.
Women look to sex for power or control, or to get the attention or praise that they want.
Women are also more likely to have a love addiction, which can easily be mistaken for a sex addiction. With a love addiction the addict looks for all her self-worth from her partner.
Men are about three times more likely to be addicted to gambling. Another difference with gambling addiction is that women tend to favour the slot machines and bingo while men are more likely to get hooked on table casino games or the stock markets.
Reason For Stopping Drugs
The biggest motivating factor for both men and women stopping drugs is for their children. 49% of women gave their children as the reason for stopping drugs, almost double that of the 26% of men that gave their children as their motivation.
Reason For Using Drugs
The trigger for men could originate for some men from traditional gender roles. Men may feel that they need to be adventurous and in control. Drugs and alcohol may seem like a good tool to help achieve these things. Men can be encouraged to keep their feeling hidden and taking drugs and drinking alcohol can appear to be a way of coping for some men.
Women often turn to drugs and alcohol in response to a traumatic event from childhood. In one study 30 to 59% of women in an addiction treatment program had a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.
Although men are more often in situations that are physically dangerous women are at a higher risk (both as a child and as an adult) to be victims of personal violence. In addition to this women are more likely to be sexually victimized while using alcohol than men.