Sex and gender differences in substance use

Scientists who study substance use have discovered that women who use drugs can have issues related to hormones, menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. In addition, women themselves describe unique reasons for using drugs, including controlling weight, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, and attempts to self-treat mental health problems.

Science has also found that:

  • Women often use substances differently than men, such as using smaller amounts of certain drugs for less time before they become addicted.
  • Women can respond to substances differently. For example, they may have more drug cravings and may be more likely to relapse after treatment.
  • Sex hormones can make women more sensitive than men to the effects of some drugs.

Learn more about gender differences here

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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