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.
- 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.