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Men vs. Women: Differences In Addiction

Addiction is addiction. All men and women who find themselves chemically addicted to drugs and alcohol share many commonalities. However, there are distinct differences in the way men and women experience addiction.


Relapse can happen to anyone at anytime in recovery. Relapse is a common problem in addiction recovery but is not a required part of addiction recovery. For many women, relapse is a necessary part of their unique journey of recovery. Sadly, relapse is never a guaranteed round trip ticket. Too many women do not return from relapse and either stay out in active addiction for long periods of life or lose their life to overdose or other causes of death.

Both men and women relapse, however, the more emotional nature of women and the stigmatization of the male character stereotype puts women at the lower end of relapse. Men are less likely to ask for help, before going to treatment, and during treatment. Women are more inclined to reach out and ask for support, as a result, they are less likely to relapse.


Women have significantly less access to treatment than men do. Children, health concerns, and health insurance can prevent women from getting the treatment they need. Single mothers have a difficult time finding the right accommodations and financial support they need for treatment when they are a primary provider to a family.


Men and women both face stigmatization when it comes to addiction but the kind of stereotypes and shaming each gender faces varies. Women have many surface level expectations about appearance whereas men face expectations that are more internal about character. A woman shouldn’t appear drunk, disheveled, addicted, and out of control. She’s expected to be poised and presentable. Women shouldn’t have problems.


There are many different ‘causes’ for a woman’s addiction. Genetics, mental health predispositions, life circumstances- there are many causes individually as well as in combination. Women face a kind of discrimination, assault, disenfranchisement, and many more harsh conditions of life that men do not. Men, for example, are much less often the single parent.