Women are less likely than men to use almost all illicit drugs. Illicit drug use is more likely to result in overdose deaths and department visits for men over women. Men might have higher rates of dependence on alcohol and drugs.
However, women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder. In addition, women are more susceptible to experiencing a craving or relapse. These are phases of the addiction cycle.
Research has shown that women often engage in drugs differently and respond to drugs differently. Women can have unique hurdles to effective treatment. It’s as easy as not being able to discover childcare or prescribed medication.
How Addiction Affects Women Differently than Men
Fewer females use marijuana than males. It is similar to various other addictive drugs. However, for females who use marijuana, the effects can be different from male users. Research has indicated that marijuana impairs spatial memory more in women than men.
Few studies suggested that teenage girls who engage in marijuana use have a higher risk of brain structural abnormalities. Furthermore, animal studies have shown that female rats are more sensitive to pain-relieving, activity-altering, and rewarding effects.
The main ingredient in marijuana is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Men and women have two similarities when it comes to marijuana use disorder. They have at least one other mental health disorder and a low rate of seeking treatment.
Differences in Marijuana Use Disorder Between Women and Men
Women tend to experience more:
- Quickly developing disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Panic disorders
Men tend to experience more:
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Other substance use disorders
- Severity of disorder
Stimulants (Methamphetamine and Cocaine)
Research on animals and humans suggested that women tend to be more vulnerable to reinforcing and rewarding effects of stimulants because estrogen is most likely the factor for increased sensitivity.
Furthermore, in animal studies, females are quicker to engage in higher amounts of cocaine than males. Women might also be more sensitive than men to cocaine’s effects on the blood vessels and the heart.
Female cocaine users are also less likely than male cocaine users to display blood flow abnormalities in the brain’s frontal regions. Furthermore, these findings suggest a sex-related mechanism that might protect women from a few of the harmful cocaine effects on the brain.
For methamphetamine use, women have reported using the drug because of the belief that it’ll increase energy. Therefore, decreasing exhaustion associated with home care, child care, family responsibilities, and work. Another incentive women mention for methamphetamine use is weight loss.
Women who engage in methamphetamine use had higher rates of co-occurring depression. Generally, women start engaging in methamphetamine use at an earlier age than men. Typically, female users become more dependent on meth to function than men.
Women are less likely to switch to another drug when there is a lack of access to methamphetamine. In addition to other substances, women tend to be more open-minded than men to methamphetamine treatment.
MDMA (Molly, Ecstasy)
Research has suggested that MDMA produces more powerful hallucinatory effects in women than men. Some evidence stated in occasional users that women are more prone than men to experience depression a few days after using MDMA.
Furthermore, young women are more likely than men to die from the rare reaction of increased water in the spaces between cells. It can result in an eventual swelling of the brain and even death. Almost all reported death cases occur in young females between the age of 15 and 30.
Research has suggested that women use smaller amounts of heroin and are less likely than men to inject it. Most women who inject heroin direct it to sexual partner encouragement and social pressures as the main factors.
One study indicated that women are at a greater risk than men for overdose death during the first years of injecting heroin. However, it’s unclear as to why. One possibility is that women who inject heroin are more likely to use prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin than men.
When heroin and prescription drugs are combined, it can be dangerous. Women who don’t overdose within the first few years are more likely than men to survive long-term. Generally, this can be due to treatment differences and environmental factors that impact heroin use.
Research indicates that women are more sensitive than men to pain and more likely to experience chronic pain. Chronic pain can contribute to high rates of opioid prescriptions among women of reproductive age.
Additionally, women might be more likely to take prescription opioids without having a prescription to cope though women and men report similar pain levels. Also, research has suggested that women are more likely to engage in prescription opioid misuse to self-treat problems such as tension or anxiety.
Anti-Anxiety Sleeping Aids and Medications
Women are less likely to seek treatment for central nervous system depressant misuse. Sometimes, this includes sedatives to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, and seizures. The drugs help individuals fall asleep before surgery.
Women are also more likely than men to die from overdoses involving medications for mental health conditions, such as antidepressants. Benzodiazepines are prescribed medications (sleep drugs or anti-anxiety) and antidepressants send more women than men to emergency departments.
More women end up in emergency departments because they are more at risk than men for insomnia and anxiety. Women might get prescribed more medications since greater access can increase the risk of misuse and lead to overdose or substance abuse.
When it comes to alcohol, young women adults are the exception. Typically, girls ages 12 to 20 have moderately higher alcohol misuse rates and binge drinking than males.
Long-term drinking is more likely to damage women’s health, even if a woman has been drinking less alcohol over a shorter period. When comparing individuals with alcohol use disorders, women have death rates 50 to 100% higher than men.
The death rates include alcohol-related accidents, deaths from suicides, stroke, liver disease, and heart disease. Additionally, there are a few health risks unique to female drinkers. For instance, heavy drinking with an increased risk of having unprotected sex results in pregnancy or disease.
An increased risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault and violence is also a health risk. Additionally, drinking as little as one drink per day is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer in some women.
Postmenopausal women with a family history of breast cancer have a higher risk of breast cancer. Additionally, women and men assimilate alcohol differently due to gastric tissue activity differences.
After drinking comparable amounts of alcohol, women tend to have higher blood ethanol concentrations. As a result, women become intoxicated from smaller quantities of alcohol than men.
Research has suggested that women and men differ in smoking behaviors. For example, women smoke fewer cigarettes every day and use cigarettes with lower nicotine content, and don’t inhale as deeply as men.
Also, women might smoke for several reasons than men like stress and mood. It’s unclear whether these differences in smoking behaviors are because women are sensitive to cocaine.
This is because women find the sensations associated with smoking less rewarding. Or because of the social factors contributing to the difference. Some research suggests that women might experience more anxiety and stress because of nicotine withdrawal.
The risk of death from smoking-associated lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, continues to increase among women. Some dangers that are associated with a smoking increase in women using oral contraceptives such as:
- Blood clots
- Heart stroke
The smoking decline is higher among men than women. The prevalence of smoking is only slightly higher for men than for women. Several factors appear to contribute to this narrow gender gap including women being less likely than men to quit and more likely to relapse.
The Importance of Women’s Rehab
Though men are more likely to struggle with drug or substance addiction, women are more likely to transition from drug use to addiction. Likewise, self-medication is more prevalent in women than it is in men. Women attending a women’s rehab center are more likely to experience physical problems dealing with the pancreas and liver.
Women have specific needs when attempting to overcome any substance use habits. Females are more known to become addicted faster than men though addiction occurs less often among men.
Generally, substance abuse in women is because of the woman’s relationships, families, and lives. Women also suffer from severe consequences of indulging in over-the-counter cold medications and laxatives. When this occurs, women can experience menstrual problems, gastrointestinal issues, and heart concerns.
Physical challenges can make the handling of mental issues and substance abuse issues more vital. Therefore, focusing on women’s treatment efforts assists counselors in effectively developing coping strategies. These tools help women in feeling better in every aspect.
The advantage of women having their physical and mental needs addressed helps the woman determine if treatment is working. When physical aspects of treatment are improved, it reinforces growth in the woman’s mind.
Multidisciplinary Approach to Addiction Treatment for Women in Recovery
Women benefit from a multidisciplinary treatment approach. Society tends to treat women more than men in various aspects. However, we offer a separate treatment facility for women’s residential treatment.
In addition to developing women’s strategies, counselors leverage the caretaker roles women have. Teaching women helps them care for themselves. In turn, social norms turn into empowerment.
Empowerment can lead to strength-based treatment options that are more successful than other strategies. Counselors can assist women in standing up to enablers and anyone who contributes to illicit drug use.
Statistics on Women and Drug Abuse
Scientists have studied how substance abuse in women has issues related to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, fertility, hormones, menopause, and breastfeeding. Additionally, women describe unique reasons for engaging in drug use, including the following:
- Attempts to self-treat mental health problems
- Fighting exhaustion
- Controlling weight
- Coping with pain
Furthermore, 19.5 million females, (15.4%) have used illicit drugs, aged 18 or older, in the past year. Often, men use substances differently than women, such as using smaller amounts of specific drugs for less time before becoming addicted. Women respond differently to substances, such as experiencing more drug cravings or being more likely to relapse after.
The sex hormones that a woman has can make them more sensitive than men to the effects of several drugs. Women might experience brain changes, heart issues, and blood vessels. When women are victims of domestic violence, there is more of an increased risk of substance use.
Women who engage in specific substances might be more likely to have anxiety, depression, or panic attacks. The death of a child or partner, loss of child custody, or divorce can trigger substance use in women. Furthermore, a woman’s mental health can also be affected.
Women’s Rehab Center in Live Free Recovery Awaits
Though women report using substances for a shorter period, the progress moves quickly from first use to addiction. The withdrawal process can also be more intense for women. Here at Live Free Recovery, we offer women’s rehab to assist women in quitting substance use.
Some women treatment often need support for handling the burdens of homecare, childcare, and other family responsibilities. There are several treatment options geared to help women. Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone with treatment methods improve outcomes. We can help you.