May 2nd, 2012 | 1 Comment
There are gender differences in how drugs are metabolized and how they affect the body.¬† Many experts consider women’s alcoholism to develop far more rapidly than that of men’s alcoholism.¬† This progression goes from use to abuse and from abuse to dependence and from dependence to seeking treatment¬†(Yan, 2010).¬† The progression is referred to as telescoping.¬† Women’s accelerated telescoping is partially evident due to the fact that women tend to begin drinking at a later age, but enter treatment approximately at the same age range as men¬†(Kuhar, 2011).¬† Harvard Psychiatry Professor, Shelly Greenfield, estimates that women’s alcoholism reaches the phase of seeking treatment four years earlier than men’s¬†(Hanson, 2011).¬† Furthermore, diseases associated with heavy alcohol use like brain atrophy and liver damage effect women more quickly than men regardless of the fact that women generally drink less¬†(Harvard Medical School, 2010).¬† Some theorize that the more rapidly progressing female alcoholism may be in part due to the women’s slower ability to break down alcohol. While historically and even currently, there are more male alcoholics than female alcoholics, that gender gap has been closing since the 90′s.¬† It is particularly similar for younger age groups¬†(Hanson, 2011)
In addition to the rate of the women’s telescoping, different predictive factors are more common in women.¬† Women with a childhood trauma history, anxiety disorder, or depression are significantly more likely to have a substance use disorder¬†(Yan, 2010).
Women are more prone to difficulties in recovery, relapsing and getting sober in the first place.¬† In some ways, this may be reflective of a male-based treatment protocol.¬† Much of the accepted protocol for addiction treatment is based upon research done on males¬†(Harvard Medical School, 2010).¬† A recent study found that with treatment, women were just as likely as men to recover in a co-ed setting.¬† However, for women with trauma or co-morbidity involving psychiatric diagnoses, women’s treatment centers or groups are considered more effective¬†(Harvard Medical School, 2010).¬† Interestingly and disturbingly, most women with substance abuse have a physical and/or sexual trauma history¬†(Drug Intervention, 2009).¬† Women tend to be more open and create bonds more easily in single-sex treatment centers.
There are three major factors affecting women’s ability to get treatment: “financial insecurity, a lack of programs that are designed to treat female clients and difficulties arranging for childcare while they are in treatment” (Drug Intervention, 2009).¬† It is interesting to consider the gender specific elements of addiction and recovery.¬† The research indicates the necessity of women in recovery exploring women’s groups at treatment centers, women’s sober livings, and single-sex Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to determine if these settings would be beneficial on an individual basis.
Drug Intervention. (2009). Women Often Experience Drug Abuse and Addiction Differently Than Men Do. Retrieved 2012, from Drug Intervention: http://www.drug-intervention.net/women_drugs_experience.php
Hanson, D. (2011, November 11). Alcoholism’s Gender Gap is Closing Fast. Retrieved 2012, from The Fix : http://www.thefix.com/content/gender-gap-closing-fast%E2%80%94-alcoholism9212
Harvard Medical School. (2010, January). Addiction in Women. Retrieved 2012, from Harvard Health Publications: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2010/January/addiction-in-women
Kuhar, M. (2011). The Addicted Brain: Why We Abuse Drugs, Alcohol, and Nicotine. Pearson Education.
Yan, J. (2010, July 2). Gender a Key Consideration in Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved 2012, from Psychiatric News: http://pnhw.psychiatryonline.org/content/45/13/16.1.full
Written by T4A Admin
Filed under: Featured, Latest News, Recovery · Tags: Alcohol Abuse Ratios, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, metabolizing alcohol, Substance Abuse and Women, Treatment, Woman and Alcohol abuse, women's telescoping
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