Substance abuse and gender are two things some of us rarely think are connected to. If someone abuses alcohol or practices prescription drug abuse enough, there is no doubt that they would develop a strong addiction regardless of whether they are a man or woman. What’s important to know is that more research is finding that gender and addiction is actually linked, as some withdrawal effects can affect women more than men. On the flip side, men have been found to be more prone to developing addiction to alcohol and their overall rates of alcoholism are much higher.
To break down the confusion between the ways substance abuse can affect both genders, let’s look at the ways men and women react differently. Both genders should be judged equally if they stumble across addiction as well since it’s not fair to blame men for “just being men” and women for being “reckless” or “unfeminine”. Our world is known for putting one gender over the other when it comes to drug shaming and it only fuels the fear that either side experiences when they want to become sober. The most important thing to remember is that these findings are not the end all, be all of your health if you happen to be using drugs or drinking a lot of alcohol. These are general statements that are derived from tests samples from the past few years. Your weight, biological makeup, exercise habits, daily diet and family history could all play a role in how you may individually react to drugs and gain treatment success.
Substance Abuse And Gender
We’re all human, but men and women have demonstrated key differences in how their bodies react to alcohol and drugs. As rates of alcoholism rise and more opioid related injuries are flooding the media, we have to educate ourselves on the risks pertaining to our gender before it is too late. Some drugs that can affect men and women in different ways:
- Marijuana: Recent studies have shown that more males using marijuana during their free time, in their workplace, and with their friends who encourage it than females. Men may have more of a need to boost their social reputation among friends or feed an ego that aspires to be respected and accepted within a larger group. Men also experience more intense highs and could metabolize their dosage much more slowly than women who process substances at a quicker rate on average. However, the same research also showed that marijuana more intensely impairs temporary memory in women’s brains than men. This is costly if a woman lives an active lifestyle, has a demanding job, or lives in an environment where she must be highly aware of her surroundings.
- Heroin:Recent research shows that most women are generally using smaller doses of heroin and for less time on average than men. This makes sense since their bodies are generally smaller and weigh less, so taking the same amount would be very risky. Women have also been found to inject heroin much less than men because of the risk and pain factor involved. With their faster metabolism though, women pose a higher risk for overdosing on the drug than men during their first few years of use. It’s important to report anyone you know who is using heroin too frequently because it’s a one of the drugs that are much harsher on the body.
- Prescription opioids: Opioids are a huge killer and contribute to the rising rates of substance abuse and gender related injuries the past few years. Some research suggests that women are more sensitive to pain can suffer from more intense withdrawal effects from the drug than men. Since women on average have higher rates of anxiety and stress, they may also use the drug to lower their symptoms and may not realize they have a full-fledged addiction to the drug before it’s too late. For men, they may use the drug to feel more bonded to their peers and relieve feelings of anger, stress, and tension. Men still suffer from the come down of the opioid high and are less likely to stick with treatment with the signs of relapse that can come back to their mind.
- Alcohol:In general, men have higher rates of alcoholism and suffer from relapse throughout their older years. At the same time girls who are up to twenty years old have demonstrated a slightly increased rate of alcoholism than men. This could be due to social influencers that encourage young adults to try drugs and alcohol at a younger age in high school and in college. For women, their reproductive system could suffer the consequences of too much alcohol as it messes up their regular hormones cycle, periods, and levels of fertility. Pregnant women need to stay away from alcohol at all costs so they can protect their children so they don’t bear future disabilities as a result.
Both Genders Are Strong
If you are someone who knows they have addiction and needs treatment, talk to someone you trust. Make sure they understand where you are coming from and are willing to provide you support. If you don’t have someone to talk to, that’s fine too but make sure you take matters into your own hands and look up what centers are around you. Even if you’re a man, you’re still not invincible from substance abuse disorder and will need to seek treatment. Do your homework on what location sounds right for you and you won’t be disappointed by the help it provides you in life!