Differences Between Female & Male Addiction-How Hormones Affect Recovery

The difference between males and females suffering from addiction stems from their sociological and biological differences. The biological differences that revolve around production of hormones, average body composition and size influence how substances affect the human body diversely. 

Researchers are still investigating why women and men respond to drugs and treatment for addiction differently. However, female hormones that include estrogen have been highlighted as some of the reasons why women are susceptible to some drugs including cocaine, meth, and other stimulants. These hormones are also responsible for mood disorders which predispose women to become addicted to some substances.

How Hormones Affect Addictions
Before you or a loved one enters a rehab for women, it’s important to find out how and whether hormones are responsible for the addiction. Hormone imbalance can be the reason for chemical dependency. Many women are familiar with the effects that fluctuating levels of estrogen can have on them.  

Symptoms of this fluctuation include depression, fatigue, and anxiety. But, women with hormonal imbalance experience more than these effects. Their energy, motivation, and stress levels are affected to. 

Research has shown that estrogen plays a role in addiction. Higher levels of estrogen make women vulnerable to the impact of some drugs. Estrogen intensifies the reward pathway for dopamine in the brain. This increases the pleasurable feelings caused by the drugs. As such, a woman with high levels of estrogen can feel more enjoyment from taking drugs like cocaine and meth. 

The increased pleasure leads women to using the drugs in higher amounts to enjoy more pleasure. Unfortunately, this leads to addiction that eventually may necessitate seeking help from women’s treatment center (AddictionResource provides more info). 

When the levels of progesterone fall, estrogen dominates the body. This makes a woman susceptible to drugs’ effects. However, when a person with chemical dependency problem receives progesterone, it curtails cocaine use and smoking. 

Essentially, progesterone reduces the rewarding effects of a drug while lowering the motivation to seek out the addictive substance. 

How Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Affect Women 
By the time most women decide to enter drug rehab centers for women, they have suffered many negative effects of alcoholism and substance abuse. Effects of alcoholism and substance abuse by women tend to be more magnified in terms of family, health, emotional, and societal consequences. 

The body of a woman may not process alcohol as efficiently as the body of a man. Water content and body mass are less in women bodies. This hinders efficient diffusion of alcohol. As such, chronic female alcoholics are at a higher risk of dying from alcohol related accidents, suicides, and organ failure when compared to men. 

Women that abuse drugs and become alcoholics suffer more societal and family consequences. For instance, a man can drink heavily for decades. However, a woman faces job-related issues as well as child service interventions after drinking for a few years. 

Women can use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate emotional and psychological issues. However, research shows that more women have serious mental health problems than men. Additionally, addicted women tend to believe that seeking help for substance abuse and recovery comes with negative stigma. 

Treatment for Addictions 
Though there are differences between female and male addiction, it’s possible for women to recover from addiction with proper treatment. Female rehab centers provide special programs that address the unique addiction treatment and recovery needs of women. Basically, gender specific programs are designed to address the specific needs of males and females battling addiction. 

In a nutshell, both women and men can benefit from comprehensive, gender-specific treatment programs that include detox, therapies, counseling, and continued care.

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