The ratios of men to women who use particular substances vary greatly and generally statistics show a significant trend toward more substance use by males for all classes of substances. For example, the ratio of men to women who use heroin is close to 3: 1 while the proportion of men to women users of cocaine tends to be two males for every one female. Methamphetamine, however, is significantly different and appears to be a substance of abuse and addiction that appeals to both men and women equally. That ratio of use along gender lines is close to 1:1. Similarly, admissions to treatment facilities for the use of methamphetamine are also approximately 50% women and 50% men.
While the numbers of men and women who use meth are similar, there are significant differences between men and women who use methamphetamine, however. Women who use methamphetamine are more likely to have certain characteristics and life circumstances that male users of meth do not. Some of these issues that women who use methamphetamine typically have are:
• a live-in partner who abuses substances
• a history of physical and sexual abuse
• a history of multiple suicide attempts
• introduction to methamphetamine by an intimate partner
• motivation to use methamphetamine by the desire for weight control
• more negative medical and role functioning consequences of use than men
• more frequent use
• habitual smoking of methamphetamine rather than use by inhalation or injection
• psychiatric methamphetamine-related symptoms, issues and conditions
For women, methamphetamine use and recovery seem intricately tied to relationship issues. It is typical that a woman addicted to meth will also have a partner who is similarly addicted. This social dynamic significantly complicates recovery efforts for women. For example, women who complete treatment for methamphetamine use, and return to partners who continue to use meth, are more likely to relapse than women who do not return to such relationships after treatment. On the other hand, women who successfully complete treatment and return to partners who are also in early recovery from methamphetamine use have fewer incidents of relapse.
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