Addiction: How Women Differ From Men

women addictionThanks to a growing body of research, we now know that addiction and addiction recovery is different for men and women alike. In fact, women face some unique challenges including having a harder time quitting and a greater chance at relapse.

Differences between women and men also include how they develop a substance use disorder, experience consequences of use and what they need in terms of treatment and lasting sobriety. Men and women experience addiction differently and often wrestle with different societal pressures and emotions.

Here’s a look at a few key differences:

  • Women become addicted faster with smaller amounts than men.
  • Women are more likely to have a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health illness, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD and eating disorders.
  • Women are more likely to have experienced past childhood or sexual trauma or domestic abuse.
  • Women develop health-related problems, including cancer and nerve damage, faster than men.
  • Women report greater feelings of guilt and shame over their substance abuse.

Alcohol: Women develop alcohol dependency faster than men and are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of heavy or chronic drinking, including liver disease, brain damage and breast cancer.

Opioids: More women experience chronic pain and develop a dependency on painkillers faster than men. This is partly because they tend to be prescribed painkillers at higher doses than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nicotine: Not only do female smokers have a harder time quitting smoking, but they also face greater health risks than male smokers. This includes having a heart attack and developing cancer.

Is a Gender-Specific Program Right for You?
Overcoming a substance use disorder is difficult for anyone and it’s particularly challenging for women, who may be afraid to seek treatment due to potential legal or social fears or a lack of child care while in treatment. At BRC Recovery, we can help. Our women-only addiction treatment accommodates up to 20 women ages 18 and older. To learn more, call today: 866-905-4550.