While it used to be the case that men used drugs at higher rates than women, it seems gender gap has finally closed. Women are now just as likely to take drugs recreationally. The contexts in which their drug use takes place is also changing: according to a recent British Drugs Survey, “Women (25%) are four times more likely than men (6%) to take drugs in an out-of-home environment.” And their reasons differ, too: while men are more susceptible to peer pressure, “women are more likely than men to take drugs in order to fit in with their friends (16% and 11% respectively).”
Multiple factors play a part in this shift: women are under more pressure than ever to be self-assured, smart, funny, successful and sexually engaging, and cocaine certainly lowers inhibitions and provides the rush of confidence that makes all of those qualities feel within their grasp, if only for a night. Whatever the reasons may be, increasing rates of cocaine use don’t bode well for women, who are also more susceptible than men to the risks that unavoidably come along with it.
Women’s Heightened Sensitivity to Cocaine’s Already Dramatic Effects
Women are more sensitive than men to the effects of cocaine on the brain’s reward and motivation systems, due to a female hormone called estradiol. Specifically, estradiol influences the brain’s mGluR5 and cannabinoid CB1R pathways, intensifying the euphoric feelings that result from stimulant use. In short, this neurological process does an even more effective job of setting women up for addiction.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, “the brains of cocaine-dependent men and of cocaine-dependent women respond differently to the effects of cocaine.” The drug’s chronic effects – long-term consequences that endure after drug use has stopped – are worse for women, and take place within a shorter time frame. This is because of a stronger reactive process in women that scars internal organs and tissues as a result of damage to the central nervous system.
Are You a Woman Struggling With Cocaine Addiction?
If you’re using cocaine recreationally, it’s important to understand how quickly it can ramp up into a full-blown addiction. Cocaine addiction is an intense roller coaster ride that quickly takes over your life and has severe consequences for your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health – especially for women.
To overcome the intensity of cravings that come along with cocaine withdrawal and begin to repair the damage it’s caused to your life, a powerful and integrated addiction treatment approach is necessary. At The Sanctuary, we employ the knowledge of new scientific developments in epigenetics and neurogenesis to change our negative thought patterns and positively influence our DNA. And while it may sound doubtful to you now, here in beautiful, healing Sedona, we know that complete recovery is possible.
For more information on the dangers of cocaine abuse, see our article: “I Only Do Cocaine On Weekends – Am I Addicted?”