Addiction impacts both men and women—but it doesn’t necessarily impact them in the same ways. There are some gendered differences in substance abuse and in drug and alcohol addiction, with some forms of addiction impacting men at a disproportionate rate.
But what does the science say about addiction among men? And how does that impact our understanding of addiction recovery? Those are the questions we’ll focus on in this post.
Let’s start with some data. According to government research, men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs. What’s more, men are more likely to have emergency room visits or even fatalities as a result of overdosing.
With that said, women and men are equally likely to develop substance use disorders. And, studies find women to be more susceptible both to cravings and to relapse, both important phases of the addiction cycle.
But what about specific forms of addiction? Are they more prevalent among women, or among men? Here are a few of the main categories of substance abuse.
Marijuana addiction is much more common among men than among women. Additionally, marijuana impacts men and women in different ways; women tend to experience greater impairment to their spatial memory, while men will often experience a greater marijuana-induced high.
This may come as a surprise to some, but men actually abuse opioids—including prescription painkillers—to a much smaller degree than women do. There are many possible explanations here—including the fact that women tend to have more struggles with chronic pain, and women are more likely to misuse prescriptions than men are.
If women are more likely than men to self-medicate with opioids, the inverse is true of alcohol. Here, men are much more prone to substance abuse, and both alcoholism and binge drinking are quite a bit more common in males. Due to the fact that men and women metabolize alcohol differently, however, men actually face fewer health risks when they drink.
Finally, smoking habits tend to vary quite a bit between women and men, with men smoking more frequently and choosing cigarettes with higher nicotine content. It’s unsurprising, then, that men tend to have more smoking-related health problems than women do.
It’s clear that, although addiction is an equal opportunity offender, it can impact men and women in very different ways—so it stands to reason that men and women might require very different treatment methods, as well.
To that end, it’s generally preferable to seek gender-specific addiction treatment. In other words, it’s best for men to enroll in a men’s program, where the clinical approach is tailored and where all the other participants will have similar stories and experiences.
There are also implications for how you interact with loved ones. Be aware of the types of addictions that are most common among men versus women, and remain on alert for any signs of substance abuse amongst your loved ones. If someone you know is struggling with addiction of any kind, encourage them to seek the treatment they need.
Experience Recovery believes in the power of treatment and the possibility of recovery—and we’re pleased to extend that possibility to men throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
We tailor our programs to meet the needs of each individual, and provide a full spectrum of services—from detox to after-care.
Learn more about men’s addiction recovery by reaching out to the Experience Recovery team today
If you or a loved one needs help getting sober, Experience Recovery can help. Our admissions line is open 24/7.