How Addiction Affects Men and Women

Editorial Team

Springboard Recovery was born from the passion and personal experience of its founders. We understand the real-world challenges of early recovery and are here to help and we are passionate about helping our clients lead balanced, healthy, and fulfilling lives.


How Addiction Affects Men and Women

Researchers continue to look at the biology and psychology of substance misuse and addiction. It’s important to note that there are distinct differences in how addiction affects men and women. It’s long been known that neurochemistry differences in men’s brains and women’s brains exist, and that addiction facets can also be gender-based. That’s why treatment center Scottsdale facilities take the gender differences into account when customizing programs to help you overcome substance abuse. You’re not just a statistic to facilities like Springboard Recovery; you’re a real person we want to help achieve lifetime sobriety.

Treatment Center Scottsdale Facilities Analyze The Numbers

According to County Health Rankings, nearly a fifth of Maricopa County residents indulge in excessive drinking. And according to the Office of the Medical Examiner, deaths due to drug overdoses in the last year were more than 1,300. Nearly 1,000 of those deaths were opioid overdose-related, and 75% of those opioids were fentanyl and prescription opioids.

Drug and alcohol misuse and addiction is a serious issue in Maricopa County. Treatment center Scottsdale facilities like SpringBoard Recovery know there are many layers to helping you break the chains of addiction. They also know many of those layers can depend on whether you’re a man or a woman.

Brain Biology: The Neuroscientific Differences of Men and Women

It’s no scientific secret that there are brain-based differences in men and women. Generally speaking, women excel in measures of verbal ability, reading and writing comprehension, and fine-motor coordination. Typically, they also have faster perceptual speeds, and they’re better at retrieving more information from their long-term memory.

Men, on the other hand, tend to be able to use working memory more flexibly. They seem to have more neural activity and leverage when it comes to visuospatial skills. They are also typically better at tracking moving objects and aiming things they throw.

Neuroscientists attribute much of the brain-based differences in men and women to evolutionary processes throughout history. Current research focusing on how addiction affects men and women is increasing. Treatment center Scottsdale facilities look at how to best customize treatment programs to help more people beat addiction once and for all.

Brain and Body Biology: How Addiction Affects Men and Women

There are several aspects of how addiction affects men and women differently. For instance, when specifically speaking to alcohol use, physiologically, women have less total body water than men do. As Biological Psychiatry notes, because women have less total body water, they reach a higher level of blood alcohol concentration (getting buzzed or drunk) than does a man when drinking the same amount of alcohol.

Women also metabolize alcohol differently. This lets alcohol stay in their bodies longer and lowers their thresholds for intoxication when compared to men. And when it comes to the biological differences between men and women with alcohol, there’s a distinct difference too. Men who drink alcohol have greater releases of dopamine than do women who drink the same volume. Dopamine is the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter your brain produces when something you find pleasurable happens. The more dopamine released, the more the body and brain will crave whatever it was that caused it to release. This means that even though women metabolize alcohol differently and need less to be drunker, alcohol use seems to more strongly affect the brains of men than women.

Brain-released hormone differences in women may also play a part in how addiction affects them. A woman’s menstrual cycle and estrogen level fluctuation may impact how addiction works in her body. Research has found that estrogen hormone changes in rats change how they respond to cocaine. This is especially true in areas of the brain that process and wait for pleasure and reward. This may be why women react more strongly to cocaine than men may and why they may crave cocaine more at different times of the month.

Estrogen also seems to trigger receptors for drugs in the brain. As these receptors are activated, the effects of the drugs are more strongly felt. As women have more estrogen production than men, this is significant when looking at how addiction affects men and women.

How Addiction Affects Men and Women: Social And Emotional Impact

Research suggests that social norms and mores may impact how addiction affects men and women differently. For instance, researchers believe when men smoke or engage in drugs, they may do so for the physiological and brain-based stimulation and effect. They also crave the calm and relaxed states smoking and drug use may bring on.

Women, however, may initially begin to use and abuse drugs and alcohol for social aspects. Using cigarettes, marijuana or alcohol is often a way for quick bonding with others.

Researchers have also found general traits of addiction affect men and women. For instance, men typically will abuse heroin, marijuana, and alcohol, while women will primarily abuse prescription painkillers, alcohol and opioids.

The Male & Female Bain

There are some neurological differences in the brain of a man and woman. For instance, women may more quickly get addicted to a substance than a man will once they begin using or abusing.

Men are more likely to go for longer times without using and relapsing. Whereas women are more prone to relapse and when addicted, have shorter periods of abstinence.

The significant take away when looking at how addiction affects men and women is that it does, and often in different ways. This means it’s imperative for treatment center Scottsdale facilities to ensure their programs are customized and focused on your needs.

Springboard Recovery: Individual Focus For Lifetime Sobriety

If you’ve been struggling with substance misuse and abuse and want to get your life back, Springboard Recovery is the place to turn. Springboard Recovery’s caring and compassionate staff know that you’re not just another case; you’re a man or a woman who needs individualized treatment and help. We know that you need an individualized approach that will be best for helping you break the chains of addiction. You don’t have to struggle alone anymore. If you’re ready to end addiction and begin living again, contact us today.


  1. County Health Rankings & Roadmaps:
  2. Maricopa County:
  3. Stanford Medicine:
  4. frontiers in Neuroscience:
  5. Biological Psychiatry:
  6. National Library of Medicine:
  7. Science Daily:
  8. US National Library of Medicine:
  9. US National Library of Medicine:
  10. US national Library of Medicine:
  11. National Institute on Drug Abuse:

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MARCH 3, 2020

Robert Castan is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at SpringBoard Recovery. Robert started his professional career as a house manager and has become an industry leader and trusted voice in the treatment world. He brings extensive knowledge of organizational growth, industry-leading outcomes, and comprehensive marketing to SpringBoard Recovery. Robert has been walking his own path of recovery for over 10 years. This path has truly driven his ambition to help make treatment available to others who are struggling with addiction. Robert finds great joy in traveling and keeping physically active, with an emphasis on biking. Robert resides in Arizona with his husband and two four-legged children.   The U.S. Alcohol Crisis, Still Deadlier Than the Opioid Epidemic   Zombies and Other Future Threats to the Health of American Youth Dire Mental Health: A Catalyst for Post-Pandemic Drug Addiction The Benefits of Rehab Center Staff Working Their Own Recovery Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship Castan: The road less traveled of addiction & recovery in Scottsdale Opioids & COVID Driving Phoenix’s Rising Fatal Drug Overdoses Opinion: The Opioid Crisis + COVID-19 = The Perfect Storm Successful Addiction Treatment Programs & Entrepreneurship

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