Drug Abuse and the Gender Gap

Usage rates for prescription drugs continue to rise with nearly 3 in 5 Americans taking prescription drugs including antidepressants and opioids.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that prescription drug usage among people 20 and older had risen to 59 percent from 51 percent just a dozen years earlier and it was rising at a faster rate than ever before. During the same period, the percentage of people taking five or more prescription drugs nearly doubled, to 15 percent from 8 percent.

Effects of Gender on Addiction

It is no surprise then that the non-medical use of prescription drugs including painkillers, tranquilizers, and sedatives continue to be a growing problem in the United States. Statistics show men abuse prescription drugs at a higher rate than women, however, the gap between the genders is narrowing. Females age 12 to 17 are less likely to take abuse prescription drug and abuse and distribution is much higher in males of the same age range, according to a recent government study on Gender Medicine. The same report shows that young adult females show a higher percentage rate of addiction to cocaine and prescription drugs even though males in that age group abuse those drugs more frequently and take them in larger amounts.

Disturbingly, more recent statistics show that overdose deaths among young women are increasing, especially those who become addicted to opioids. The CDC Vital Signs reported that deaths from opioid overdose among women have increased 400 percent since 1999. By comparison, young men of the same age group suffered fatal opioid overdoses by approximately 265 percent in that same time frame. The CDC has estimated that as many as 18 women in the United States die every day from an opioid drug overdose, most of which were obtained by prescription.

To continue the disturbing downtrend of drug abuse according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, women are less likely to receive adequate treatment for substance abuse than men. Studies show that women are less likely than men to be placed in a specialized but are often treated by primary care providers or through mental health programs instead. Women also face more obstacles that are an impediment to their treatment, such as lower incomes, the possibility of pregnancy, and the need for childcare. In addition, women show more of a tendency to hide their substance abuse for a variety of reason including fear of social stigma, loss of child custody, or repercussions from a partner or spouse.

In the past, studies in drug addiction was from a male perspective for both males and females and drug abuse prevention programs and rehab facilities were designed with an emphasis on the needs of males. In comparison, outreach campaigns, preventive education, and drug rehab today is tailored to address the needs of both men and women as the scientific and medical community become more informed about how and why these addiction patterns occur in both men and women.

With gender roles playing a role in addiction, Gender-specific treatment programs provide a respite from the social stressors of everyday life. Patients can focus on their recovery without the distraction of the opposite sex. Studies show that both men and women feel more comfortable communicating about issues like sexuality, social prejudice, and domestic abuse with members of their own gender.

Both men and women suffering from opiod addiction, both can benefit from comprehensive rehabilitation programs that focus on the full range of care required to be free from addiction. These programs take a patient from detox to residential treatment, partial hospitalization, outpatient services, and transitional living. Effective treatment therapies include:

Fitness training
Experimental and holistic modalities
Follow up programs
Family or marriage counseling
Nutritional counceling
Having the support of a highly trained, multidisciplinary staff can help individuals of both genders recover from the disease of addiction and regain hope for the future.
According to a SAMHSA report in 2014, men are more likely than women to use all types of illegal drugs that result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths. These drugs include marijuana (according to federal law) and the misuse of prescription drugs. Men in most age groups have a higher rate of use and dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than do women. However, women are just as likely as men to become addicted but are more likely to become addicted to prescription drugs and illegal drugs. Women are also more susceptible to craving and relapse which are key phases of the addiction cycle.

Going even further in their research SAMHSA found that women of color may face other unique issues with regard to drug use and treatment needs. For example, African-American and American Indian/Alaska Native women are more likely than women of other racial and ethnic groups to be victims of rape, physical violence, and stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime-issues that are risk factors for substance use and should be addressed during treatment.

In addition to drug abuse be affected by personality traits, research has shown that in most instances women use drugs differently, respond to drugs differently, and often have unique obstacles that prevent them from receiving effective treatment. Some of these obstacles being as simple as not being able to find child care or being prescribed treatment that has not been adequately tested on women.

Researchers continue to study to learn more about the differing factors that attribute to drug addiction in males and females. As they are able to effectively identify these factors, the medical community more able to develop programs to increase an individual’s chance of breaking free from addictive lifestyles.

They are learning that the physical and mental differences of both men and women contribute how they are introduced abuse an individual’s ability to be successful in a treatment program

In a July 2016 article CNN reported that:

“according to a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, worldwide, drug use has remained steady over the past four years,. However, researchers found that heroin use in the United States is up 145% since 2007.”
One in 20 adults — roughly a quarter of a billion people between ages 15 and 64 — used at least one illegal or improperly used drug in 2014, according to the World Drug Report 2016. Though the numbers have not grown in proportion to the global population, new trends have developed, including increased sales in anonymous online marketplaces.

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The Correlation Between Drug Abuse And Healthcare Costs

A study conducted by an organization known as Monitoring the Future, found that 47% of teenagers had involved used illegal drugs before they completed high school. This is not only a problem attributed to the youth, since it is found in adults too. Illegal drugs have a detrimental effect on the livelihoods of the people who use them, making it a national concern. People have lost their lives, and caused untold pain to those who are around them. These drugs have also led to a high level of crime, an issue, which has led to the formation of enforcement agencies, to fight the vice. There is a significant relationship between Drug Abuse and Health Care Cost.

How the abuse of drugs affects healthcare costs.

People who use illegal drugs spend a lot of time in medical facilities, due to a myriad of problems brought about by consumption of the drugs. These drugs affect your health directly by compromising your immune system. If you abuse drugs, you will always be suffering from one illness to another, thereby resulting in more visits to the hospital, than you would, if you were not abusing the drugs. This considerably increases the cost of health care per capita. Insurance companies that provide healthcare schemes are therefore forced to increase the amount of money that you pay, in the form of premiums. Government healthcare schemes are also stretched thus, providing lower cover for people. Drug abuse also has an indirect effect on the cost of healthcare. Scores of people around you will be affected when you abuse drugs. Accidents, on people who do not use drugs, caused by people who are under the influence of drugs are on the increase. These people need medical care, and therefore have to spend large sums of money, treating a condition that was not of their own doing. This is how drugs, directly and indirectly, affect the cost of healthcare provision.

Apart from increasing the cost of providing emergency medical response to people who abuse drugs, a large volume of financial resources goes into curative drug abuse programs. These are programs designed to help you stop abusing drugs. The reason why they are expensive is because they take a long time to have any measurable effect, and they are conducted by highly paid professionals. Drug rehabilitation programs have a draining effect on the exchequer. A lot of taxes are used in creating programs that help people to stop using drugs. Private medical care schemes also spend a lot of money in paying for private rehabilitation of drug addicts in clinics or at home. The costs are further increased by the fact that you still have to be monitored after you leave a rehabilitation facility. This is done so you do not suffer a relapse, and end up where you began.

How you can help lower the healthcare costs brought about by drug abuse.

The first step towards lowering this cost is to stay away from drugs in the first place. Get involved with your peers, and other members of your community, to educate people on the dangers of abusing these drugs. Your efforts will reduce the cost of providing healthcare to drug addicts. If you, or anyone you know, are abusing drugs, you should seek immediate help from a professional. The cost of rehabilitation can be reduced considerably, if you make a personal commitment to staying away from illicit drugs. If you go through a rehabilitation program, only to relapse later, you will have increased the national cost of healthcare provision.

The untold story of abusing prescription drugs

Although the abuse of illegal drugs is a primary concern, when it comes to the cost of providing healthcare, the abuse of prescription drugs, to a lesser extent, also contributes to this issue. When you are addicted to prescription drugs, you will have to spend a lot of money buying the drugs, when you do not need them. To stop this, you should use all prescription drugs according to the directions given by your physician. Do not use the drugs, for a longer period than that prescribed. If you do not get better, you should visit your physician who will give you an alternative treatment.

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