General Data into Addiction

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Drug and Alcohol Addiction: US

Drug addiction between males and females in the US differs in terms of their rates of addiction, motivations for drug abuse, and health effects. Successful approaches to combat drug and alcohol addiction in males and females address these differences through gender-specific treatment, as pointed by several experts and articles published by reputable psychology publications.

Drug Addiction


  • The rate of male drug addiction surpasses female drug addiction by 2 to 3 times.
  • Drug abuse among males is more likely to happen because they want to keep feeling good or want to cope with social difficulties.
  • Males develop more severe addictions to marijuana than females along with addictions to other drugs and antisocial personality disorders.
  • Male cocaine users have "similar deficits in learning, concentration, and academic achievement" to female users. However, males are more likely to have issues with blood flow in the front regions of the brain.
  • The number of male tobacco smokers was higher than female tobacco smokers in the past, but the gender gap today is much smaller with the number of male smokers only slightly higher than that of female smokers.


  • In general, females often escalate their drug use more than male users and later find it harder to recover from their drug addiction.
  • Females develop addictions to marijuana more quickly than males while also having more panic attacks and anxiety than males.
  • Females are more vulnerable to stimulants than males when it comes to forming an addiction and having some cardiovascular effects. While females share many of the same motivators for using methamphetamine as males, one motivator reported much more by females than males is "weight loss." Female users are also more likely to start using earlier and eventually develop an addiction.
  • Binge drinking is more common in young females than in young males despite this not being the case for adult females. Females also have higher health risks and death rates associated with long-term alcohol use.
  • Most female smokers will have a harder time trying to quit smoking cigarettes than male smokers. Different phases of the menstrual cycle can also have an impact on difficulties with quitting smoking.

Approaches to Recovery


  • When treating males in drug addiction recovery, it is important to deconstruct certain standards of masculinity that could create obstacles for treatment. Males who believe they do not need help can work with a counselor to examine these socially informed beliefs.
  • Male treatment groups can focus on masculine virtues, such as strength and independence, to better appeal to male attendees.
  • The drug disulfiram, which is used to treat alcohol addiction, tends to be more effective for treatment among males than females.
  • Male tobacco smokers respond better than female tobacco smokers to nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion.
  • Transmen, like transwomen and nonbinary individuals, do better in treatment when medical professionals respect their gender identity, take training in gender sensitivity, and take into account the potential connections between gender-related experiences and drug addiction.


  • Drug addiction recovery facilities have tended to focus on males which has left females largely out of the picture. A program that is specific to females could help with recovery by addressing the specific needs of females while also creating a more comfortable and distraction-free space. A similar gender-specific facility would most likely be beneficial to males as well.
  • Providing on-site childcare can give mothers a safe place for their children while also remaining near them during treatment.
  • Female treatment groups can focus more on feminine virtues, such as nurturing and caring, to provide comfort to the client on their way to recovery.
  • Despite producing more negative subjective effects, opioid receptor antagonists, such as naltrexone, tend to produce better treatment outcomes for female alcohol users and even reduce alcohol's stimulating effects.
  • Given that there is a "strong association between methamphetamine and HIV infection" among transwomen, it would be important for treatment to address the connection between sex and methamphetamine abuse for successful recovery.
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Addiction Recovery Rates

The rate of recovery for sex addicts in the United States is only 5%, while the rate of recovery for heroin and opiates in the country is 10% (without the usage of methadone or suboxone) and 30% respectively.

Drugs/Other Substance

  • Among those aged 12 and up in the United States, 19.4% were illicit drug users in the year 2018. Around 2.0% were cocaine users (5.5 million), 0.3% used heroin (808,000), 0.7% took methamphetamine (1.9 million), 2.0% used hallucinogens (5.6 million), and 0.7% utilized inhalants (2.0 million). Additionally, the rates of misuse among this group for psychotherapeutic drugs, stimulants, tranquilizers or sedatives, benzodiazepine, pain relievers, and opioids reached 6.2% (16.9 million), 1.9% (5.1 million), 2.4% (6.4 million), 2.0% (5.4 million), 3.9% (9.9 million), and 3.7% (10.3 million).
  • Some common medications that are utilized to help treat opioid and nicotine addiction include methadone, buprenorphine, extended-release naltrexone, lofexidine, nicotine replacement therapies, bupriopion, and varenicline.
  • In 2018, 8.2% of adults aged 18 and older were in recovery for drug or alcohol-related issues. Women are more inclined to relapse than men. The recovery success rates for heroin and opiates are 10% and 30% respectively, but recovery success rates for heroin addiction rises to 50% with the implementation of methadone or suboxone.
  • Regarding treatment admissions for substance abuse, less than 70% are men and more than 30% are women.
  • Only 19% of individuals aged 12 and up that were struggling from substance abuse and were considered to be in need of treatment, including drugs, received treatment in the year 2017. Approximately 5.2% of women and 9.4% of men aged 12 and up experienced substance use disorder in 2017.
  • According to an examination of 28 longitudinal evaluations involving long-term opioid addiction, merely 30% of people revealed they were abstinent during a 10-year follow-up survey.
  • The therapeutic community boasts of maintaining success rates of 30% when it comes to those that attend rehab for substance abuse, however, this only includes those that are able to complete the program.


  • Out of the estimated 139.8 million alcohol users in the United States, about 11.8% of them (16.6 million individuals) are considered heavy users, while 48.0% of them (67.1 million individuals) engage in binge drinking.
  • According to a 2019 report, the definition of binge drinking and heavy alcohol use differs for men and women. The report states, "Binge drinking for males is defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days," while "binge alcohol use for females has been defined as drinking four or more drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days."
  • In 2018, 8.2% of adults aged 18 and older were in recovery for drug or alcohol-related issues.
  • According to Alta Mira Recovery, up to 40% of alcohol dependents that attain professional treatment are still sober for a minimum of 12 months following rehab, while only 23% of those that attempt to become sober by themselves do.
  • Some common medications that are utilized to help treat alcohol addiction include naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate.


  • Overall, around 5% of men and women who struggle with sex addiction are able to recover. Of course, the recovery rates can differ by institute and form of treatment. The 3-5 day on-site intensives offered by the Heart to Heart Counseling Center maintain a full recovery rate of 85%.
  • According to The Recovery Village, very limited research is available on female sex addicts.
  • It is estimated that up to 40% of Americans with a sex addiction are women, and therefore, the other 60% are men (100-40 = 60).
  • Nonetheless, merely one-fifth of individuals enduring treatment for sex addiction are women, meaning that four-fifths of those getting treatment are men.
  • As listed by The Recovery Village, some common co-occuring disorders for sex addicts include Asperger's, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, sexually-transmitted infections, erectile dysfunction, and different types of addictions.
  • The prevalence rate of porn addiction among American adults amounts to 5% to 8%, according to The Recovery Village. Women make up about one-third of internet porn users, while men aged 35-49 account for the largest viewing group for online pornography.
  • As revealed by recent studies, individuals that take part in "specialized forms of therapy, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), reduced their porn viewing by as much as 92% after treatment. After three months, their porn use was still reduced by 86%."

Research Strategy:

Although we were able to locate general statistics surrounding drug use and recovery rates for drugs/other substance, alcohol, and sex/porn abuse victims, there was limited information available for a breakdown for recovery rates between men and women.

Our research began by scouring through reports issued by government sources that focus on substance abuse, including alcohol, in the United States as they typically offer relevant and reliable nationwide statistics on the matter. These sources included the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among others. While we found statistics on drug and alcohol use and recovery in the country, including the percentage of American adults that were in recovery for drug or alcohol-related issues in 2018 and the split between men and women in treatment for substance abuse in 2014, there was no breakdown between males and females regarding the rate of recovery.

Next, we explored the websites of treatment service providers, hoping that they published reports, articles, or statistics on recovery rates for substance abusers and those addicted to sex/porn, including a breakdown for women and men. These treatment providers included The Recovery Village, American Addiction Centers, Alta Mira Recovery, JourneyPure Knoxville, Lakeview Health, etc. This research strategy worked to an extent, as we were able to find general statistics on the matter and the share of women seeking treatment for sex addiction, but there was not sufficient information explicitly detailing the difference in recovery rates for men and women.

Finally, we attempted to perform a triangulation to find the answer. First, we wanted to locate the overall number of people in the United States that recover from drugs/other substance, alcohol, and sex/porn addiction. Second, we wanted to find the number of men vs women that recover from those addictions, which we could have used to calculate a breakdown between the two groups through division. We scoured through various government, news and media, and research reports to find this information. However, none of the figures we sought were readily available in the public domain. We only found the number of people suffering from various forms of addiction in the country, along with outdated information.

Due to the lack of available information, we offered general statistics surrounding recovery in addicts. Most of the sources we came across primarily focused on the prevalence of drug and alcohol use and sex/porn addiction, as well as treatment, as opposed to actual recovery.