Women Face Gender-Specific Challenges In Fighting Addiction And Alcoholism

By Howard Cohen
The Miami Herald.

MIAMI

“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” trumpeted a popular book in the 1990s.

Author John Gray didn’t sell 50 million copies of his book and spark a pop culture fire by telling us anything most of us hadn’t learned by grade school. Men and women are different.

Gray just focused on the interpersonal perspective, how we communicate and how these gender differences can lead to conflict.

Here’s another significant way in which the sexes differ: addiction, its aftermath and treatment.

Take alcohol. Men and women metabolize drinks differently.

“Depression is more frequent in women than in men; addiction is more frequent in men than women, but if women have a problem of addiction or alcoholism, there is more likely of having other psychiatric problems like depression.

The likelihood they were exposed to trauma is higher,” said Dr. Ihsan Salloum, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and chief of the Division of Substance and Alcohol Abuse at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Women also experience different influences and relapse triggers, according to the Hanley Center, a residential treatment center for women ages 18-46.

THE NUMBERS

The National Institute for Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse estimates that about 5.5 million women drink alcohol at levels that place their health at risk.

Double that number for men, said Dr. John Eustace, medical director at the South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center. Alcohol abuse can result in liver damage, hepatitis, brain disease, breast cancer and heart disease.

A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that in 2012 there were more than 1.7 substance abuse treatment admissions domestically.

Alcohol was the most frequently reported primary substance at treatment admission among all racial and ethnic groups.

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