Addiction is a behavioral disease that affects people all around the world, regardless of demographics like class, race, or gender. However, it would be naive to assume that these factors didn’t play a part in particular substances and their prevalence on a particular demographic. For example, despite its stereotype for primarily being a male drug, cocaine addiction is actually more prevalent amongst women, who are more likely to get addicted to cocaine than men. Here are some reasons why this appears to be the case...
Women are more likely to use cocaine, younger
According to a study that was published by the journal Nature Communications, women were considerably more likely to get addicted to cocaine than men. One aspect of the study showed that females are more likely than men to start using cocaine at a younger age, and begin using it in much larger amounts. Women also are much less likely to turn down using cocaine after they have tried it than men are.
Estrogen increases the reward factor of cocaine
The biggest reason that women appear to be more susceptible to cocaine addiction has to do with hormonal fluctuations. According to the researchers, who were based at Mount Sinai Hospital, they found that higher estrogen levels would greatly increase the reward simulation effect of cocaine on its user. Because of this, women on their menstrual cycles experience vastly more stimulation from cocaine than they otherwise would. Not only does estrogen cause the intensity level of cocaine to rise, but also prolongs the effects of its use. It’s for this reason that it is more difficult for women to turn down cocaine after they have already experienced its effects, and thus a dependency begins to develop.
Recovery programs for men have been more successful
In the past, most addiction recovery programs were developed with men in mind, as most test subjects for their methods were men. In recent years, we have seen this begin to even out some, especially as gender-specific treatment has begun to witness a rise in popularity (and even at our own facility). However, this study shows that new methods of how to treat certain substance dependencies still need to be implemented. Indeed, when it comes to cocaine, many researchers are looking into the effectiveness of using hormonal treatment to stunt the effects that cocaine has on individuals with higher estrogen.