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Addiction can be brought on by a variety of factors, such as environment and family history. But as it turns out, gender plays a role in its development, as well.
While men continue to outnumber women in terms of overall alcohol and drug use, the gender gap has been narrowing. In fact, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), women are the fastest-growing segment of alcohol and drug users in the United States. Up to 4.5 million women over age 12 in the U.S. have a substance abuse disorder, 3.5 million misuse prescription drugs and 3.1 million regularly use illicit drugs.
But this alarming trend doesn’t end there. Though women begin using drugs and alcohol at lower levels than men do, their use escalates to addiction much more quickly in comparison – a phenomenon known as “telescoping.” In essence, they’re becoming addicts at much higher rates than their male counterparts.
So, why do women respond differently to the effects of drugs and alcohol than men? Experts offer the following explanations:
In treatment, a woman’s needs are unique when compared to a man, so treatment programs must be tailored to address those particular needs. That means providing gender-specific treatment programs are essential in order to get this rapidly growing segment of society the help it needs and deserves.
Additional Reading: Addiction Isn’t Your Fault, It’s Your Responsibility
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