Men vs Women: Who is More Vulnerable to Addiction?

Men vs Women: Who is More Vulnerable to Addiction?

From Julia Beyers

Do you think men and women are more similar than different, or vice versa? We now have equal opportunities in education, career, wealth, etc. But what about health? Are men and women equally vulnerable to addictions?

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Neurobiologists, psychologists, and physicians are still exploring this issue. New research findings and statistics appear annually. There are many types of addictions — drug addiction, alcohol addiction, gaming addiction, and even Internet addiction. In this article, we will focus on the most common ones. So, let's find out what is now known about gender-specific addiction patterns.

Drug Addiction and Gender

Drug abuse is one of the most painful issues for society. It is known that any drug, even the legal one, affects mental health. It leads to perception altering, increased irritability, aggression and unbalance. Criminal statistics alone show that half of the armed attacks and robberies are committed by drug users.

Women and men get addicted to drugs differently. The studies show that men are more likely to use various types of illegal drugs. At the same time, women tend to use various antidepressants, painkillers, and sleeping pills. According to statistics, the gender difference in substance use is as follows:

     women are more likely to use marijuana than men;

     however, men are more susceptible to the effects of these drugs;

     at the same time, women use methamphetamine more actively;

     both sexes use substances such as opioids, ecstasy, cocaine in approximately the same way;

     men are more likely to become addicted to anabolics, molly, heroin.

The statistics are somewhat similar: both sexes can easily get hooked on cocaine. However, “preferences” for other drugs can vary. This is explained by different motives, neurochemical properties, and social conditions.

This isn’t fair to say that men easily tolerate the effects of drugs or vice versa. All substances are harmful to both genders. Men and women are equally at risk of facing the following health problems as a result of using drugs:

     weak immune system;

     brain cell damage and mental disorders;

     gastrointestinal disturbance;

     weight loss;

     liver diseases: hepatitis, cirrhosis, insufficiency.

Not to mention the fact that unsafe drug injecting can result in HIV infections and AIDS. But the most dangerous consequence of drug-taking is death. In America alone, 130 people die every day from an opioid overdose.

Also, pregnant women and nursing mothers are very vulnerable to the toxic effects of drugs. We can say that this is a special risk group that needs increased attention. The fact is that any drug will inevitably affect the health of both a woman and a fetus. For example, occasional marijuana use can lead to a baby’s small weight, while the regular use causes neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

Alcohol addiction: who should avoid misusing alcohol?

Alcohol can also be regarded as a drug in a way. If you abuse it, your mental health will be affected. Although both sexes drink alcohol at about the same frequency, it has been proven that alcohol-containing drinks affect women's health more. While men are more likely to become addicted to alcohol.

High vulnerability to alcohol among females is due to the biochemical properties of the body. Women have a smaller quantity of the alcohol-dehydrogenase enzyme that absorbs the substance. Therefore, alcohol saturation and intoxication are more common among women.

So, women who abuse alcohol are prone to:

     liver cirrhosis and hepatitis;

     stomach cancer;

     heart attack;


     premature menopause;


Because of this, alcoholism is twice as dangerous for women, even if they drink less often than men. But the male part of the population is not safe either. While alcoholism primarily affects the physical health of women, men are prone to mental disorders and deviations:


     promiscuous sexual activity;


     drunk driving.

Thus, the approach to treating alcoholism is different for men and women.

Do women smoke more often?

Smoking is one of the most common and dangerous addictions. Smoking is harmful to everyone regardless of gender. Also, 99% of cases prove that instead of natural tobacco, the smoker consumes ammonia, nitrogen dioxide, combustion products, and other substances that destroy health. Any tobacco addict faces increased risks of:

     Heart attack — 2 times higher;

     Stroke — 3 times higher;

     Angina — 20 times higher;

     Peripheral Arterial Disease — 5 times higher.

So, a smoker is more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases than a non-smoker. And of course, smoking increases the risk of lung cancer tenfold.

The world statistics show that about 9% of women and 40% of men are smokers. But, the tendency for tobacco use among women is growing. The main explanation for this lies in approaches to tobacco marketing. The companies re-coordinate their strategies and target women specifically. They market cigarettes as a symbol of freedom and prestige.


Any addiction is a blow to health. As a rule, females are more vulnerable to the effects of harmful substances than males. This is due to gender-specific behaviors and characteristics. Even pharmaceutical companies are now taking a different approach to medicines manufacturing and focus on the characteristics of both sexes.

However, men are also at risk. Because of vulnerability to drugs and alcohol they are more likely to become addicts and engage in crimes.

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