How Women Experience Addiction Differently Than Men

Addiction to substances such as heroin and alcohol affect women differently than men. A 2010 American Journal of Public Health study found that women were more likely to be prescribed opioids than men and to continue them long-term. Another study of chronic pain patients prescribed opioids in the Journal of Pain revealed that women’s increased risk of opioid misuse was related to emotional issues while men misused opioids because of legal and behavioral problems.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed prescription painkillers and at higher doses than men; and become dependent more quickly than men. From 1999 to 2010, CDC data revealed that 48,000 women died of prescription-related overdoses. During this timeframe, prescription overdose deaths increased over 400% among women, versus 237% among men. The sobering statistics don’t end with prescriptions. The National Center for Health Statistics reported heroin overdose deaths among women tripled from 2010 through 2013.

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