When it comes to substance use disorder, there is almost no limit to the number of fallacies and misconceptions that people hold around the topic. One thing that is certain is that addiction does not discriminate and can affect high functioning individuals that hold prominent positions in society. Another common misconception is that treatment is the same for everyone and that everyone will experience addiction the same way. Not only is this not true, but it is particularly untrue when it comes to men and women. Men and women not only experience addiction differently but their treatment needs are often different as well. Here are three ways that addiction affects men and women very differently.
- Dependence develops faster in women than in men
According to a number of different studies, women are more likely than men to:
- Experience chronic pain
- Be prescribed prescription painkillers or opioids
- Be prescribed higher dosages of painkillers or opioids
- Become dependent on opioids much more quickly
Besides opioid addiction, alcohol addiction also has a tendency to develop much more quickly in women than in men. In addition, women not only weigh less than men but also carry less water and more fatty tissue. Because water dilutes the effects of alcohol while fatty tissue retains alcohol, women are far more likely to experience severe organ injuries such as liver disease or brain damage.
- The root causes of addiction are different
Addiction is, at its root, a way of managing pain. Sometimes this pain is physical, but far more often it is psychological or emotional. For women, the root causes of addiction are often emotional or relational, while for men they are related to financial, legal or behavioral problems. For instance, a woman may be more likely to relapse when her spouse leaves her but not as much when she loses a job. A man may be more likely to relapse when he loses his job, but not necessarily when his girlfriend breaks up with him.
- Women have a harder time seeking treatment than men
While there is certainly a stigma surrounding a substance use disorder in both men and women, the stigma tends to be far greater for women, particularly when it comes to opioid addiction. As hard as it may be for men to seek treatment for a substance use disorder, it can be even more difficult for women – particularly when there are children involved. While a man may be able to seek treatment with little fear of losing custody of his children – and may even be lauded for doing so – a woman is more likely to be seen as a bad parent for having an addiction and may be deemed an unfit parent even after seeking treatment.
While there are a vast number of differences between how men and women develop addiction and why, both men and women can benefit from seeking faith-based treatment or a twelve step program. Our team of addiction and mental health professionals offer residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment in a private and peaceful setting. At Stonegate Center, you’ll find a safe, modern, welcoming environment where you can focus on healing from addiction and adopting a new lifestyle free of substance abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling reach out to Stonegate Center today!