While gender equality is a solid goal in the sociopolitical landscape, there is no denying that there is a strong difference between men and women who suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol. As a matter of fact, there are many differences. These differences may be the age at which they are exposed to drugs, how likely they are to try drugs, the specific drugs they become addicted to, how easily they become addicted, or how difficult it is for them to recover. Studies have shown how men and women differ in all of the areas above.
The Dawn Of The Gender Studies
Prior to the 1980’s, the majority of all substance abuse studies focused entirely on men. It wasn’t until the decade between 1980 and 1990 that researchers decide to take a step back and compare how men and women differ when it comes to addiction to drugs or alcohol. Fast-forward the clock to the modern day and there have been countless studies on the subject. Thanks to those studies we now see the difference between men and women when it comes to substance abuse and we are able to deliver more effective treatments because of that.
A Difference In The Initial Exposure
It’s safe to assume that the beginning of any addiction is the initial use of the drug. This also happens to be the first area where men and women truly differ. This was highlighted by a study conducted in 2013, which revealed that men most often begin using drugs at an earlier age than women. The study focused on boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 17. It revealed that:
- 9.6 percent of males between 12 and 17 used illicit drugs.
- 8.0 percent of females between 12 and 17 used illicit drugs.
A 1.6 percentage may not seem huge, but that accounts for a significant number of people. It’s believed that young boys begin experimenting with illicit drugs at an earlier age because they have more exposure and more opportunities because of their social groups.
Women Are At A Disadvantage When Drinking
Have you ever noticed how a recommendation for drinking alcohol might say 3 glasses per day for a male, but only 1 glass per day for a female? This is because a female can drink the exact same amount of alcohol in the same amount of time as a male and will still have a higher blood-alcohol content. The female body is not capable of breaking down the alcohol at the same rate as many men. Furthermore, women are often shorter, lighter, and have smaller muscles. All of these factors make it more likely for a woman to develop an alcohol abuse problem if they are already drinking.
What About Trying Drugs At A Later Age?
Young boys are more likely to try drugs at an early age, but there are some age groups where women become more likely to experiment with drugs This comes from the strong relationship between mood disorders and substance abuse problems. The National Institute of Mental Health states that women are more likely to experience some degree of depression during their lives. There is also twice the chance of them developing a serious condition related to anxiety. It’s known that patients with depression or anxiety are more likely to develop substance abuse problems.
The Types Of Drugs Are Different Too
The specific substances abused by women and men will differ as well. Men are more likely to abuse cocaine or heroine. Men do tend to drink more alcohol than women, but women become addicted at a faster rate.
Different Reasons For Drugs And Alcohol
Studies have shown that men and women tend to drink or abuse drugs for entirely different reasons. While women often drink to self-medicate psychological problems, such as depression or anxiety, men drink or take drugs for more physical reasons, such as:
- An improved sex drive.
- Increased energy at work.
- To feel powerful.
Understanding how men and women differ when it comes to their reasoning for substance abuse has made it much easier to treat the condition. For example, men tend to benefit more from the 12 step program while women get better results from cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT). This is because the 12 step program targets the feeling of power while CBT targets psychological triggers that cause cravings. Rather than sticking everyone in the exact same recovery program, rehabilitation facilities can design unique programs that target potential gender-related programs. At the end of the day, understanding these differences will help save countless lives.
There are many ways men and women differ from using drugs, from detox to recovery, these differences are prominent.