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Is Addiction Different for Men and Women?

Addiction, treatment, and recovery are a little different for everyone. There are many relevant factors and one of them may be whether you are a man or a woman. The following are some aspects of addiction and recovery that may be different for men and women.

Why You Use

Broadly speaking, men and women have different motivations for using in the first place. Men are more likely to use for fun and excitement. They are more likely to binge drink. Men tend to seek pleasure and elevate their mood. They are also more likely to use to cope with social situations. Men are more likely to have antisocial disorders. These may not make addiction more likely in themselves, but they are likely to erode social support. Strong social support is one of the most important factors in preventing addiction and relapse and so men with antisocial disorders are particularly vulnerable.

Women, on the other hand, are more likely to self-medicate. Women are roughly twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and anxiety, especially from stress related to trauma, abuse, or difficult relationships. Women are also more likely to use stimulants  at a younger age to lose weight. Early drug use is a major risk factor for developing addiction later on.

What You Use

Men are about twice as likely as women to become alcoholics. There are several possible reasons for this. Women tend to metabolize alcohol less efficiently, making drinking less pleasurable. Women are also smaller on average, meaning the same quantity of alcohol has a greater effect.

Women are more likely to abuse opioid painkillers and be treated for opioid overdose. Men, however, are more likely to die from opioid painkiller overdose and about five times more likely to die of a heroin overdose.


Treatment outcomes are slightly different for men and women. Men are about twice as likely to become addicted. Women tend to move more quickly from abuse to addiction but they progress more quickly in recovery and are less prone to relapse. The downside is that women who need treatment are less likely to seek it. Women are more likely to feel their responsibilities prevent them from taking time to enter detox and treatment. This is especially true of single mothers with inadequate social support. The one exception is that women are more likely than men to seek treatment for addiction to sleeping pills. This may indicate that social stigma is part of the reason women are reluctant to seek treatment. Sleeping pill addiction stereotypically afflicts affluent women, whereas opioid or alcohol addiction still carries a stigma.

The good news is that in the long run, men and women have an equal chance of staying in recovery. The important thing is to understand your addiction and develop a recovery strategy that works for you. Gardens Wellness Center will develop a treatment plan based on your specific needs. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at