Gender Differences in Addiction

Illustration of gender medical icon

Substance use disorder does not discriminate. It can happen to a person of any age, socioeconomic bracket, race, or gender. However, trends in addiction are vastly different between men and women. Significant measurable factors such as the rate of usage, likelihood of developing an addiction, and consequences of substance abuse are all impacted by gender

Fundamental Differences

Men are more likely than women to use almost every type of illicit drug, including alcohol. However, women are just as likely to develop a substance use disorder and are more vulnerable to cravings and relapse. Men are also more motivated than women to use drugs or alcohol during stress and experience drug and alcohol-related illnesses at a higher rate than women.  

Differences in Social Acceptance

Substance abuse, particularly alcohol use, is more acceptable for men than women. Although there have been minor shifts in society’s views of women who use drugs or alcohol, it is widely more acceptable for men. Because of that, men are more likely to have risk factors and personality traits that are generally associated with substance use disorders, such as sensation-seeking and behavior control. 

Differences in Consumption

Women typically experience elevated cognitive and motor impairment compared with men, leaving them more vulnerable to harm and less likely to experience desired outcomes when using drugs and alcohol. Women typically feel intoxicated sooner than men do, leading them to limit their consumption. Men, however, are usually exposed to substances earlier and more often are prone to using substances during times of stress and in social settings. 

Differences in Dependency and Addiction

Because there are vast differences in the rates of consumption in men and women, there are variations in the likelihood of developing an addiction or dependency. Men generally consume more significant amounts of substances, meaning they typically do not have the type of protection from tolerance that women in general possess. 

Gender is just one of the many factors that makes addiction look different for every individual. Although men and women are equally vulnerable to developing a substance use disorder, men are typically faced with more opportunities to do so. Valiant Living in Denver, CO, is an all-male outpatient treatment program for those battling substance use disorders. Our programs give men a safe space to overcome addiction. If you or a man you love has a problem with drugs or alcohol, contact Valiant Living at (303) 952-5035.