Millions of people suffer from addiction and drug abuse, but only a small percentage manage to get the help they need because drugs, affects everyone differently. Men and women have always been different regarding their physiology and mental health, and handling addiction isn’t any different. Gender differences actually play a role in the phases of drug abuse in terms of how and why they initiate the abuse, their level of addiction, and relapse.

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For decades, studies and research on substance abuse was only conducted on men, and not women, because it was believed that men are more likely to be addicted. However, women often feel the pressure to fall into substance abuse as well. Below we explore the discussion of how women handle substance abuse differently than men.


Common causes of addiction

With men, they often feel pressured by society due to their gender role expectations, and as a result, suppress their emotions. This can lead to high levels of stress, lack of confidence, and anxiety. Instead of seeking help, they often resort to substance abuse. Men also feel pressured to prove their masculinity by engaging in dangerous behavior, often leading to addiction as well. Since men are not judged by society like women, they often view substance abuse less negatively. Women, on the other hand, use drugs or alcohol to cope with trauma, mental health issues, depression, or abusive relationships. They also feel pressured by society to look or act in a certain way, which may lead to weight management drugs.  


Different effects of substance abuse

Most drugs have the same effects on many people, but some shows different signs in men and women. Women’s bodies have the power to metabolize drugs faster than men and they’re longer absorbed. This means that women tend to become addicted faster than men. Because women are more sensitive to pain, they’re more likely to misuse prescribed opioids, and develop a faster dependence on them. If opioid treatment is not sought out, women are more likely to overdose. On the other hand, men overdose with heroine more than women, and they would abuse marijuana more than women. When it comes to alcohol, men are easily affected more, because their bodies metabolize it faster than women due to high metabolism and excess water in the body as opposed to women.


Recovery and relapse

Even though women have a high chance of getting addicted faster due to biology, men are more susceptible to stay addicts longer, especially since men have higher rates of starting drug abuse at an early age, unlike women. Men and women often delay treatment for different reasons; men can delay getting clean due to work commitments, while women fear being judged as a bad mother/wife. Because of women’s role in the society, getting treatment isn’t as flexible as you’d think; women wouldn’t be able to make the time to seek treatment because they have a house to take care of. Men are more likely the ones who are forced to seek treatment by mandating court orders, while women would get their push from serious health issues or overdose since they’re more susceptible to them than men. Women suffer from fewer withdrawal symptoms than men, and even though both genders have a high chance of relapsing, it’s stronger with women as they tend to crave it more while men can abstain the longest.

Men and women suffering from addiction and substance abuse draw striking distinctions due to their biological and sociological differences. The reason they resort to substance abuse is different, as well as its effects on their body, and recovery and relapse time. However, no matter the differences, addiction affects both men and women greatly, and seeking help is always encouraged in a society that is combating drug abuse.