How Addiction Can Affect Women Differently Than Men

Although addiction does not discriminate and affects both men and women, how it affects each gender can vary. This includes physical reactions such as how the body itself responds, as well as psychological impact such as what leads to drinking or barriers to treatment. It is important to recognize these differences in order to support each gender in receiving the help that they need for recovery.

Women may start using drugs or alcohol for different reasons. Men may use alcohol as a way to avoid connecting with others on an emotional level. However, women may turn to alcohol as a way to try to maintain relationships or deal with past trauma. Substance use may be used to self-medicate and attempt to forget about one’s problems. Difficult relationships may also make it more challenging to maintain sobriety following treatment. Men and women may have different reasons for use, but it can lead to the same result in the end – addiction.

Women’s bodies are affected differently. Women often start out by using smaller amounts of a drug, but this can quickly spiral into addiction and greater use. When it comes to alcohol, the composition of women’s bodies is different than men; women’s bodies have less water, meaning they feel the effects of alcohol more quickly. Scientists also believe that women may not process alcohol as quickly as men. Hormonal differences and body fat can also have an effect. A man and woman of the same height and weight can drink the same amount and they will have different responses because of how their bodies function.

Substance use can affect pregnancy. Since men do not bear children, they do not have to worry about the impact of addiction on pregnancy. (Although addiction does affect reproduction in both genders.) Using drugs or alcohol while pregnant not only puts the woman at risk, but also her unborn child. Babies may be born going through withdrawal, and may have low birth weight, developmental delays, or other health problems. Treatment programs like Crossroads offer programs specifically designed for pregnant or new mothers to help them get the addiction treatment they need for their own health and that of their baby.

Women may delay seeking treatment. There are still stigmas that exist regarding addiction. The general public is typically less accepting of women in active addiction than men. Women may put off seeking treatment because they are worried about the social stigmas, finding someone to look after their children, and keeping up with other responsibilities at home and work. It can be difficult to get away for a few weeks for treatment.

Response to addiction treatment varies. Women and men respond to treatment approaches in different ways. What works for one gender is not always as effective for the other. Gender-responsive addiction treatment tailors care to the unique needs of men and women and creates an environment where clients feel safe and understood. Targeted treatment allows women to focus on the issues that are most prevalent in their lives and work through the challenges they face.

Crossroads understands that women and men are affected by addiction differently. Our residential programs are designed with the unique needs of women in mind, and outpatient care and therapy groups are available for both genders (though still treated separately). Recovery from addiction is possible, and Crossroads can help you along each step of the way. Remember who you wanted to be and see what a future of sobriety can hold.

[cta]Are you looking for quality, gender-responsive addiction treatment? Give Crossroads a call today.[/cta]