Gender jokes aside women and men are two very different things. The way that women react to a drug or medication is very different from the way that a man reacts. This fact warrants a closer look at the gender differences in drug and alcohol abuse. There is no denying the fact that there are social, medical, and physical differences in the way that men and women handle drugs and alcohol. According to the National Library of Medicine, there are clear differences the prevalence of drug use, the risk factors, the consequences, and the barriers to obtaining drugs.
Who is More Likely to Use Drugs?
Although women are technically more likely to use prescription drugs, they do not abuse them as frequently as men do. As for illegal drugs, men tend to abuse them more frequently than women. Unfortunately, the reason why this happens is a bit murky. Many scientists agree that social roles play a part. Men typically are less concerned about the consequences of drug use than woman, which factors into why they use illegal drugs more. As a whole, women take better care of themselves and are more concerned about risky behavior. Men are typically rewarded for things like leadership, risk taking, and impulsiveness while women are rewarded for being steady, following a lead, and thinking about their actions.
Who is More at Risk for Drug Abuse?
Due to a higher instance of anxiety, mental disorders, and abuse, women are more likely to use drugs as self medication. Women tend to use drugs to correct issues, either real or perceived while men are more likely to use drugs to amplify mood and to cope with other problems. This puts men at a slightly higher risk for abusing drugs.
Women are also more likely to use drugs if their significant other uses drugs. The drug use becomes a common bonding experience to them. Men take a leadership role and often introduce women to drug use. This is not to place blame on men for women getting into drugs, it is just a common occurrence that needs to be looked at when evaluating how the risk factors contribute to drug use.
Biologically women are more likely to get drunk or high due to their weight and build. Men use more of a drug but are less likely to have lasting permanent changes. Estrogen and menstruation are implicated in women having a harder time getting off drugs. More research into the biological factors is necessary but it appears that although biology contributes to men using more drugs than women do but it causes women to remain addicted.
Who Has More Difficulty Seeking Treatment for Drug Abuse?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, women are less likely to seek treatment. This is mainly due to their responsibilities at home and the fact that women generally think of the practical issues such as cost, time away, and children. Men tend to have more freedom to leave for the time it takes to go through rehab.
Social stigma also plays a huge part in which gender is more likely to seek treatment. Society accepts male drug use more than it does female. The role of mother is imposed on most females and that role does not accept drug use as being a possibility. This is not reality, but what society in general believes. This stigma prevents many women from seeking treatment. What is odd is it also makes women more likely to return to rehab in the event of relapse.
Who Suffers More Consequences?
Even though women use less than men do, their use tends to escalate faster. The social, legal, medical, and psychiatric consequences affect women more severely than they do men. There are also consequences that are almost exclusive to women. These are abuse, victimization, and rape. Female addicts are also more likely to have issues with the social stigma. Like many gender inequalities people view male addiction differently than they do men. Women are more likely to lose their jobs, their families, and their friends due to addiction. This is a new part to the double standard that exists between men and women.
Others are more likely to victimize women while they are abusing drugs or get them hooked on drugs for their own gains. There is a high incident of drug use by force in prostitution and human trafficking rings. Drugs are sometimes used as a way to control women and force them into an agenda they would not ordinarily be a part of.
Gender Difference and Type of Drug
Women are more likely to abuse stimulants than men are. This could be due to the need to constantly be on the go and keep up with career and family. Men are more likely to abuse sedatives than women. This is likely due to high stress jobs and pressures to provide for family.
Men and women differ when it comes to the prevalence, consequences, risks, and treatment of drug abuse. This does not mean that either gender is better off when it comes to using or discontinuing drug use. It simply means that treatment and rehab should be tailored to gender rather than taking a one size fits all approach to rehab. Most people already know that men and women need different things so it is not surprising that this goes for drug treatment as well.