Listing the many ways that men and women are different could take all day, but a lot of them have to do with differences in the brain. Women’s memories, particularly emotional ones, are stronger and more vivid. Women tend to be better multi-taskers, where men will focus more on a single task. Women are more likely than men to talk about feelings and emotions in depth. The list is huge, but one important area where that difference in brain structure and chemistry plays a role is in substance abuse and recovery. While the differences do exist, there are still plenty of misconceptions surrounding women and substance abuse. Here are some of the most common.
Women are less prone to addiction than men
This is an interesting fact – men are more likely than women to use illicit drugs and have an alcohol dependence, but women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder. When it comes to stimulants like cocaine and meth, women are actually slightly more vulnerable to addiction. Scientists think this might have something to do with estrogen making them more sensitive to the rewarding and reinforcing effects of the drugs. There is also evidence that women are more likely to develop addictions to opioids, because they are both more sensitive to pain and more likely to suffer from chronic pain due to conditions like fibromyalgia or as a result of childbirth.
Women use drugs for the same reasons as men
There are some overlaps, of course, as both men and women can be genetically predisposed to addition and suffer from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. As mentioned above, however, women are more likely to develop addictions to pain medications. They also might use drugs to combat exhaustion and in an attempt to control or lose weight. Most victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence are women, and that can cause them to use drugs either to deal with pain or to self-medicate depression or hopelessness. There is also some evidence that hormones related to the menstrual cycle might have an impact on drug cravings.
Women and men are equally likely to receive treatment
There are some barriers to women getting help for their substance use disorders that men don’t face, particularly if the woman is single. For one thing, many women worry that admitting they have an addiction might get their children taken away from them. Even if that isn’t a concern, they still have to figure out what to do about their children, and many treatment centers don’t provide childcare. Women have historically been paid less than men for the same jobs, and as a result are more likely to face financial difficulties when it comes to seeking treatment.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.