Addiction is an incapacitating neuropsychiatric disorder wherein a person gravitates toward high levels of drug use, prioritizes drug-seeking behavior over other activities, and repeatedly vacillates between abstinence and relapse. The problem of addiction can occur in anybody irrespective of factors like age, social status, religion, type of personality, etc.
However, gender differences may play a crucial role in fastening the development of addiction. Compared to men, women have been found to be more vulnerable to drug addiction, especially cocaine. Since cocaine has the potential to trigger extra energy and alertness, it is being widely used by women to complete work by staying awake. Moreover, it has become an easy way to escape from emotional or mental health problems.
In the past, most clinical research on addiction or other areas of interest were male-dominated. Clinicians and scientists of yesteryears avoided including female subjects in studies because of the belief that their hormonal cycle was too much of a variable to attain conclusive results. Due to the above reason, the inclusion of women participants becomes a major barrier to understand the way the development of addiction subtly differs due to biological changes.
The inclusion of women in clinical trials is somewhat a new development. However, it has led to the development of better medicine, improved intervention approaches, and enhanced understanding of how an addiction progresses among men and women. This progressive shift in the approach of studies has led to a better understanding of the nuances of addiction.
One of such studies discussed below highlights the key reasons behind the rise in the popularity of cocaine among women. This sex-specific study on cocaine reward published in the journal Nature Communications explains the facts and figures related to this problem in detail.
Hormonal activities affect addiction in women
The study, conducted by the researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital and led by Dr. Erin Calipari, found that hormonal fluctuations explain the development of an addiction among women who use cocaine at the rates faster than men. The study also highlights that women are likely to start using cocaine at an earlier age and in greater amounts than men. Lastly, the study shows that women are more likely to have difficulty in avoiding cocaine than men.
The researchers used mice to explain the difference in the expression of cocaine use between men and women. Since both dopamine pathways and drug responses in mice are similar to that of humans, these mice were analyzed throughout the different stages of their main reproductive cycles.
The researchers found that menstrual cycles in mice can significantly affect the impact of cocaine. When the hormone levels of female mice are low, they tend to mimic male mice. However, if the estrogen levels are high in female mice, they witness a marked increase in the rewarding effects of cocaine.
The female mice on cocaine not only demonstrated that dopamine activities are affected but also displayed that these activities lingered in the female brains than male. The study also found that environment …