The history of medical research is rampant with sexism. The research used to only include men and thus was only truly helpful in determining treatment for men. It took until the 1990s for research to include women meaningfully. Research has since clarified that men and women experience addiction and recovery differently. High-quality practitioners like Rockland Recovery work hard to recognize the gender differences in addiction and recovery and craft comprehensive treatment plans from that understanding. Being a woman in recovery is distinct. Men in recovery experience things in unique ways too. It is a strength to recognize these differences and deliver treatment accordingly.
Gender Differences in Addiction and Recovery
It’s fair to ask why gender differences in addiction and recovery exist in the first place. This difference is primarily the result of biological and sociological differences. Biology is straightforward. Men and women have different hormone levels and tend to have different body types and sizes. These factors play a direct role in what kind of impact drug use has on the body.
The sociological differences are a bit trickier to pin down. Things like childcare responsibilities, the stigma surrounding addiction and mental health, societal expectations, and interpersonal dynamics all influence how people experience addiction. Each of those subjects is experienced differently by men and women, influencing how addiction plays out based on someone’s gender.
The first significant difference between men and women in substance abuse is how often the genders tend to struggle with drug abuse. Men are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol at twice the rate of women. However, despite lower abuse rates, women are more likely to visit the emergency room because of drug complications or overdose. A few more essential gender differences in addiction and recovery are:
- Men are more likely than women to begin using drugs because of peer pressure.
- Women are more likely than men to use substances as a form of self-medication.
- Alcohol withdrawal is worse for men.
- Women experience side effects and negative impacts from substances at higher rates.
- Women have a higher risk of relapse due partly to their likelihood of experiencing intense cravings during recovery.
Being a Woman in Recovery from Opioids
Being a woman in recovery is a different experience heavily influenced by what type of substance abuse is being treated. Let’s take the case of opioid addiction. Women recovering from opioid addiction tend to be younger, have abused the drug by injecting it, and have used it in smaller doses for a shorter time. One of the biggest reasons women misuse opioids is to self-medicate for pain or anxiety. Even though men misuse opioids at higher rates, women are more likely to become dependent on these drugs more quickly.
The next example worth exploring is men in recovery from alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is worth highlighting related to men in recovery because it is the most abused drug in the United States. Some estimates have as many as 20% of the male population is struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Another gender difference that goes against expectations is that teenage girls are more likely to binge drink than adolescent boys.
Explore the Difference Between Treatment and Recovery at Rockland Recovery
Treatment and recovery are not the same things. For starters, treatment is the process of attending therapy, taking medications, participating in support groups, and more that is ultimately meant to deal with the root causes of addiction. Recovery is the actual process of overcoming addiction physically and mentally.
Simply accessing treatment is not a guarantee that recovery will follow. Recovery demands a lot of both men and women. A life free from addiction is possible. There’s no better time than the present to reach out for help. Call 855.732.4842 to let Rockland Recovery partner with you in overcoming addiction.