Drug Addiction, Facts About Addiction, Substance Abuse  |  August 10, 2016

For some time now, addiction researchers have wondered whether there were any real differences in male vs. female responses to a range of addictive drugs.  While most addiction research has been conducted on male subjects in the past, anecdotally, it appeared there might be. 

To gain a better understanding of any differences, researchers at the University of Texas are working with rats to gain a better understanding of gender response differences – using cocaine as the drug.

It’s been known for some time that repeated doses of cocaine cause molecular changes in the brain that dramatically affect cravings, primarily affecting the so-called dopamine reward system. Long-term exposure to the drug can lead to a chronic state of craving by way of permanent changes in brain circuitry and intracellular responses.  

But is the effect the same in men and women?

According to a lead author on the UT study, “…compared to men, women experience higher levels of craving and relapse during periods of abstinence and take larger amounts of cocaine during bouts of relapse…”

Is this fact perhaps proof of gender differences to the drug?

And could something like hormone differences be a factor?

So far, work with rats suggests “yes” – that females given hormone treatments do in fact seek higher doses of cocaine.  This finding suggests that estrogen may actually alter dopamine signaling and influence the strength of cocaine-associated cues.

What does this new information mean for the future of addiction rehab treatments in Connecticut and elsewhere?

Hard to tell.

But researchers are beginning to believe that this field of research “…could lead to customizable and differentiated addiction treatment and prevention measures for men, women, women on hormone-based birth control, post-menopausal women and women on hormone replacement therapy.”

If you know someone struggling with addiction to cocaine - the drug rehab specialists at Aware Recovery Care can help immensely.  Using a treatment model inspired by researchers at Yale, Aware Recovery Care is helping addicts recover at rates 350% above the national average.  Learn more today at www.awarerecoverycare.com.