Is Addiction the Same for Men and Women?

When it comes to health and wellness, we all know there are vast differences between men and women. And while the physical differences are the most obvious, lots of evidence points to differences in mental health, as well.

Take addiction, for example. While it affects men and women in similar numbers, its effects on the sexes can be quite different. Keep reading to find out more about gender and addiction, as well as addressing these differences through treatment.


How Addiction Differs Between Women and Men

From cause to effect, addiction can vary wildly among men and women. First of all, when it comes to the cause of this condition, studies show that women typically experiment with drugs and alcohol for different reasons than men. For example, while men tend to use addictive substances to enhance a good time or feeling, women are likely to use drugs and alcohol as a means of self-medicating the symptoms of mental illness.

Conditions like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are extremely common among women who abuse drugs, and are often worsened by the effects of addictive substances. What’s more, according to the Futures of Palm Beach website, women who use drugs are also usually less educated than their male counterparts, and work at lower-paying jobs. With these contributing factors combined, it seems that women, in general, are at a greater risk for developing addictions than men.

And if that wasn’t enough, evidence also suggests that women usually choose harder drugs, consume addictive substances in larger quantities, and are less likely to seek professional help. This reluctance to seek treatment is often the result of the social stigmas associated with substance abuse and addiction, as well as an unwillingness to admit a problem, and the inability to take time off from busy schedules. However, without in-depth, comprehensive treatment, women face enormous risks, including a deepening of problems with drugs and alcohol, financial difficulties, relationship problems and numerous dangers to physical and psychological health.

Treating Addiction in Women

First and foremost, treating addiction in women involves the removal of social stigmas, and the acceptance of professional help. Often, this can be achieved through education and support, and an understanding of the advantages of effective treatment. Next, intensive psychological therapy is essential to overcoming the effects of addiction. During therapy sessions, women can benefit from the open, honest communication between patient and therapist, and will learn how to identify and modify unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Also, since women often suffer from underlying mental illness, therapy can help bring these issues to the surface, where they can be treated. Once conditions like depression and bipolar disorder are addressed, the need to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol will abate, and the odds of recovery are significantly enhanced.

Group therapy is another important component of treating addiction in women. Like one-on-one counseling, group therapy provides a safe place where patients can discuss their issues; however, group sessions offer the added benefits of peer support and the sharing of coping skills. And while men, too, can benefit from group therapy, women often experience enhanced advantages from finally being able to talk about their problems with drugs and alcohol.

Because many women who suffer from addiction are undereducated or underemployed, many treatment facilities offer various types of training and assistance with school or finding employment. This can be extremely beneficial to women and their families, as this type of growth and development can help break the ties of addiction, once and for all.

Although addiction can have devastating effects on both women and men, the differences between the two cannot be denied. For women, especially, addiction can be an overwhelming, debilitating disease that impacts all areas of life, health and well-being. Thankfully, though, help is available. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, seek immediate treatment, and start creating a brighter, healthier future for yourself and your family.