Women, alcohol and men, cocaine

Hands of a woman in a Proyecto Hombre center. / Nuria Lopez Torres

They start with cannabis at the same age but they take longer to ask for help, with a different consumption pattern according to sex, indicates a study by Proyecto Hombre

Domenico Chiappe

Addicted women begin to ask for more help to get out of addictions. Especially alcohol. They usually take the step with almost 42 years. They take two years longer than men, who at 39 are already trying to get rid of theirs, led by cocaine, according to data from Proyecto Hombre, presented in Madrid. The report reveals that both girls and boys tend to start using drugs at the age of 16, with alcohol and cannabis. But "problem use" begins earlier for men, who at 19 ingest other substances, such as cocaine and amphetamines; and between the ages of 22 and 25 they move on to binge drinking and heroin use. Women, for their part, "begin regular or problematic consumption at an older age." On average, five years later they switch to alcohol in large quantities, for example.

Until they start seeking help, realizing that it is causing them problems, those who come to this organization dedicated to rehabilitation have been using substances for 18 years in the case of alcoholic beverages and 14 in the case of cocaine. But women "tend to have longer periods than men from the start of problematic consumption until their admission," the study indicates.

When they participate in addiction treatment, more than half have full-time jobs, another quarter part-time. Only 15% are unemployed. However, the sources of income are different between men and women. 40% of them depend on the subsidy and 26% on employment.


Most of the men and women who enter are single. 18% of men are married by 13% of women, and the relationship is reversed in the case of divorcees. Three times as many women, in relation to men, are widows. A third live with their parents and 43% live with their partner or children. An important difference by sex is that 12% of women take care of their children alone, compared to 1% of men. 17% of women and 23% of men live with a partner and children. Sometimes coexistence happens with other people with drug problems. In these cases, "women are more vulnerable."

They have also suffered more abuse, 20 points more than them. One in three women with addiction problems suffered sexual abuse, compared to 6% of men. They (33%) consume more medications than men (25%) on a regular basis with a medical prescription. In the treatments of Proyecto Hombre, a fifth of those who participate are women, who prefer day centers and outpatient drug-free therapy.

Mental health is present in those who undergo detoxification therapies: emotional and psychological problems (54%), severe depression (57%) and ongoing anxiety (71%). Nearly half have attempted suicide. "The prevalence among women with problems of a psychological-psychiatric nature is higher, placing the incidence of these above men."

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