Gender Trends in Alcohol and Drug Addiction and Rehab

gender trendsWhen it comes to seeking treatment, research shows no significant difference between going to a mixed-gender treatment facility or a single-gender treatment facility, but it can still be valuable to understand the trends and differences between how men and women differ in their responses to addiction and rehab.

Learning the unique challenges you face as a result of your gender or other circumstances can help you better confront and overcome substance abuse.Here are 10 gender trends in alcohol and drug addiction and rehab worth noting:

  • 1.    More men are addicted to drugs than women.17% of men will be dependent on alcohol in their lives compared to only 8% of women.  And men are twice as likely to have issues with drugs, but this is changing. As women have gained equality in the classroom, the workplace, and the home, they’ve also started to catch up as far as addiction rates are concerned.
  • 2.    Women are less likely to seek treatment.  Statistically, women face more obstacles to getting substance abuse rehabilitation than men, such as access to child care, increased societal stigma, difficulty finding transportation, and lack of finances. When they do, they often seek help from primary care or mental health practitioners – instead of specialized drug or alcohol programs which are typically more effective.
  • 3.    Women have better outcomes when treated.When women do seek out treatment from facilities or programs focused on helping them overcome their substance abuse issue, they actually tend to overcome these obstacles better than men. Getting the right treatment for yourself or a loved one is crucial to rehabilitation regardless of your gender. (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
  • 4.    There is only one substance that women abuse more than men: tranquilizers.The most common culprits are hypnotics and benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium. This is likely because women have higher rates of mental illness, and doctors are 50% more likely to give them a prescription than a man. Around a quarter of all American women use a medication for mental illness, and it is estimated that 4 million abuse the drugs. (The Fix)
  • 5.    Women become addicted faster than men.When women begin using addictive substances, they progress more quickly to dependence. This phenomenon is called telescoping. It is made even more dangerous because women also face medical issues and social consequences faster than men. As a result, when women do seek treatment, they often have more severe cases of medical, behavioral, psychological, and social problems, even though they’ve used less of the substance and for a shorter period of time.
  • 6.    Men are more likely to be binge drinkers or to drink heavily.In 2011, 30% of men report drinking five or more drinks at a time compared to 13.9% of women.   Binge drinking doesn’t necessarily indicate alcohol dependence, but it does have serious potential consequences. For this reason, men have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations.
  • 7.    More males than females abuse prescription drugs in all age groups except for teens.Females between the ages of 12 and 17 years old abuse psychotherapeutics, such as pain relievers, stimulants, and tranquilizers, more than males in this age range. They are also more likely to become addicted. Parents of teens should be on the lookout for signs of abuse.
  • 8.    More than 60% of men who are arrested use illegal drugs.Yet 70% of these men also have never had any treatment for alcohol or drug addiction. If you have a loved one who has been in trouble with the law, it can be a sign of issues with substance abuse.
  • 9.    Women who have a partner who abuses drugs or alcohol are more likely to relapse than men.Females also have a higher risk for alcohol use if they are struggling with marriage, divorce, emotional stress, and interpersonal conflict. Participation in behavioral couples therapy may be the answer since studies show less partner violence, higher rates of marital satisfaction, and lower substance-use severity as a result. Women in particular benefit from this type of therapy, showing significantly fewer days of drinking.
  • 10.    Men are more likely to be referred to treatment by the criminal justice system; women are more likely to be referred from other community agencies.

It’s probably not a surprise to learn that many men end up in treatment as the result of a brush with the law. 40% of men receive treatment this way versus only 28% of women. It’s also interesting to note that twice as many women as men arrive in treatment from community agencies they seek out such as welfare, mental health, and other health care providers. 15% of women receive treatment this way versus 6% of men.

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