Women and Cocaine Addiction

According to PLOS ONE’s 2012 article “Cost-Effectiveness of Peer-Delivered Interventions for Cocaine and Alcohol Abuse among Women,” the number of female illicit drug users rose from 10.4% to 11.2% between 2007 and 2010. Statistics such as these show that drug use, a problem once seen as a specifically male issue, is affecting women at greater rates than ever. They need individualized care to break addiction, especially to a drug as powerful as cocaine.

Differences in Addiction between Men and Women

Studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show that drugs affect women’s brains differently than they do men’s. NIDA argues that addicts must acknowledge and study the differences in their brains to develop prevention and treatment options. This institute lists the following differences in addicted men and women:

  • How the brain responds to drugs
  • Risk factors for drug abuse
  • Reasons for drug abuse
  • Benefits of different treatments
  • Reasons for quitting treatment programs

As addiction treatment and medical science advance, gender differences seem to affect people more than they believe. A 2011 article in Neuropsychopharmacology entitled, “Sex Hormones: A New Treatment for Cocaine Abuse?” discusses a study with rhesus monkeys where steroid hormones reduced the effects of cocaine in females. Furthermore, these hormones can also decrease the physical and psychological responses to a drug. This means that hormone therapy may be a part of addiction recovery programs for women in the future.

Risk Factors for Cocaine Abuse by Women

According to the article “Antecedents of Women’s Crack Cocaine Abuse” in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, the following factors strongly contribute to cocaine addiction in women:

  • Family drug use
  • Being exposed to drug abuse at a young age
  • Sexual abuse
  • Depression

Women face unique challenges that increase the risk for cocaine abuse, because women may use the drug to cope with problems, to mask painful feelings or to forget about the past.

Challenges to Cocaine Addiction Recovery in Women

Just as they face unique causes of and contributors to cocaine addiction, women also face unique challenges to recovery. They face different barriers to addiction treatment and may struggle with gender-specific medical concerns. Also, cocaine addiction often promotes risky sexual behavior among females, and these behaviors are the leading causes of HIV infection, according to the 2013 article “Gender and Social Rejection as Risk Factors for Engaging in Risky Sexual Behavior Among Crack/Cocaine Users.” Cocaine addiction treatment must consider a patient’s individual risk factors, past trauma and current challenges to promote real and lasting recovery. Treatment that does not individualize care to each woman will be less effective than programs that do.

Cocaine Addiction Help

Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline for access to the best cocaine addiction recovery programs. We can help you find treatment that is tailored specifically to your needs as a woman and an addict. All women are unique, so no one program will fit all. Find the best resources for you by talking with one of our admissions coordinators today.

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