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Gender Differences and an Addiction to Drugs


The relationship of addiction and the differences it has between genders has been a topic for professionals for quite some time. The National Institute on Drugs and Alcohol (NIDA) has dedicated a large amount of money towards research to identify and understand these differences. It is through this the NIDA hopes to determine the best treatment methods for males and females alike.  Research has shown that gender differences do in fact play a role from the very first time an opportunity arises to use drugs and continues all the way into treatment for the addiction.

The Causes of Use Differ Between Genders

Multiple studies have been conducted to try to determine why women and men begin to use and abuse drugs, some of the results are as follows:


Co-Curing Disorders:  Women tend to have co-curing emotional disorders such as depression, low self esteem, and trauma to name a few.

High Stress: Women, especially with an addiction to alcohol or cocaine, began using because they were under a high amount of stress.

Sexual Abuse: Women who have been sexually abused are four times more likely to use drugs with at least 60% of addicted women having a history of sexual abuse during their childhood.

Depression: Women with an addiction to drugs, particularly prescription medications, often show signs of depression or have been diagnosed as being clinically depressed.

Overall, women with an addiction to drugs typically experience more anxiety, depression, low self esteem or self confidence, and guilt than males with an addiction do.


Experimentation: Men are more likely to be curious about drugs and experiment with them; which may eventually lead to the abuse of them.

Greater Amounts: Men are more likely to use drugs, even if it is the first time, in greater amounts than women are.

Escape from Reality: While men and women may use and abuse drugs because they are trying to escape reality, the initial reasons for men to use are often the desire to escape into another world.

Greater Chance of Addiction: Research shows that men are more likely to develop an addiction to drugs than women.

Different Effects in the Brain: It is believed that the brains of men and women react differently to drugs. For example, men experience a greater rush when using cocaine; therefore, their chances to develop an addiction to it are higher.

Gender Differences When Reaching Out for Help

Women and men also differ when it comes to reaching out to a rehab centre for treatment. Women with an addiction tend to face more judgment and stereotyping from the outside world; therefore, they are less likely to admit that they have a problem and need help than their male counterparts. Women are also more likely to seek a private therapist or counsellor rather than checking into an outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation center. However, when a woman does go for treatment at a rehab, they are more likely than men to complete the programme.

Recognising Addiction and Getting Help

When it comes to an addiction to drugs, what is important to understand is that each and every addict is different and with that one must consider the differences between the two genders. The average man and woman likely began to use for different reasons; therefore, they may require different treatment approaches such as therapy sessions for women/men only. Through recognising these factors, one can begin to find the best treatment methods suitable for the individual.

The Cabin Chiang Mai recognises the differences in addiction between both genders. We have both male and female professional staff members, allowing us to best treat all patients in a healthy way. If you or a loved one is in need of professional treatment, contact us today. We will create a treatment programme with evidence based therapies that will meet each of their own unique requirements. This programme will give them the opportunity to maintain long lasting and healthy sobriety.

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