Increasing amounts of research shed light on addiction in women
In the early 1990s, U.S. agencies began requiring federally funded addiction studies to enroll more women. Since then, we have learned much about the important differences between addiction in women and men.
The U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 11.5% of males ages 12 and older had a dependence problem, compared to 6.4% of females. Although men are more likely to develop a substance use disorder, women who are diagnosed with the same ailment experience the following.
- They suffer a substance’s effects faster and stronger than their male counterparts.
- Initial use develops into addiction more rapidly in women.
- Women are more likely to use substances due to stress, cravings and hormonal changes.
- They enter treatment less often than men and have higher rates of relapse.
But there is hope. A recent national study from the Combined Pharmacotherapies and Behavioral Interventions trial concluded that a long-term combination of medication and behavioral therapy was just as effective at treating addiction in women as men. However, clinicians need to consider differences between the genders during treatment.
Alcohol addiction in women
Although alcohol addiction is more prevalent in men, females develop dependence more quickly. Typically, a woman’s body contains less water and more fatty tissue than a man’s, making her organs more susceptible to damage from alcohol use.
Women also have lower levels of the enzymes that break down alcohol in the stomach and liver. This makes it easier for alcohol to enter the female bloodstream. Alcohol addiction is particularly dangerous in females due to the lifelong effects it has on her body.
Opioids and cocaine
Because women suffer from more chronic pain than men, they are more likely to receive an opioid prescription. This may be one factor in the increased rate of opioid addiction in women.
Studies have shown that women experience stronger cravings for cocaine after their initial use than men. These fluctuations also vary as women experience hormonal changes. These findings teach us how to specifically target medication and therapy for women facing addiction.
Care through Kolmac
Kolmac is a global leader in treating addiction in women and men. Our clinicians are ahead of the research, constantly examining how we can offer individualized and effective addiction treatment that lasts – for both men and women. All our sites offer weekly gender specific group therapy sessions. We invite you to give us a call when you’re ready to begin your walk to recovery.