Role Of Gender Differences In Drug Use Disorders

For too long when it came to drug use disorders, the research focused ultimately on men. This meant that unique problems concerning women never came into play and women were not getting the support that they needed.

Now that people have begun to look at the differences in substance use disorder there is a lot more known about it.

It is well-known that men are more likely to become addicted to substances. 11.5% of males above the age of 12 have a substance use disorder where for women it is only at about 6.4%.  Women are more likely to try and get help for their disorders but are also more likely to suffer from an overdose.

Both biological and sociological differences affect the men and women who have a substance use disorder. The main things setting them apart though are how likely one may be to relapse or become addicted in the first place.

Men are more likely to become addicts or abuse substances because of their social groups or even peer pressure.

Women are more likely to move from substance abuse to substance dependence and then addiction and then do it faster. They are also more likely to use drugs to self-medicate.

Men are more likely to abuse substances at lower doses than women. They are also more likely to have intense symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Women are more likely to have substance abuse side effects and to overdose.

Relapsing is ultimately less likely for men than it is for women because women feel the cravings more intensely.


There are patterns of throughout history when it comes to gendered substance abuse. Women are more likely to abuse pills or prescription drugs while men lean more toward alcohol abuse. These days though things are changing. The gender gap for substance abuse is no longer as large as it was and you can find both men and women abusing either substance at more equal rates. Men are even taking over when it comes to misusing prescription opioids.


Speaking of an opioid use disorder, we will get into some of the details right here. Women experience chronic pain more often than men, which means they usually get prescribed pain killers more often than men. This is why they used to lead in that addiction.

Synthetic opioids are also common to abuse when prescription painkillers are hard to access. Synthetic opioids include heroin, which can be made and bought on the street and be very addictive.

Women used to be more likely to become addicted to these substances because they are more likely to get an addiction more quickly. People turn to heroin when they no longer can get the other drugs they were using, and then they spiral from there.

Men are now taking over when it comes to opioids now, and they are also more likely to overdose from opiates as well. Women are more likely to overdose when they are injecting heroin but are less likely to start using it that way.

Regardless, there are a few marked differences when it comes to drug abuse for men and women. Research has proven this, and it is crucial to consider this when getting treatment for a drug abuse disorder.

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