Anyone can get hooked on drugs and alcohol, but addiction isn’t gender-blind. When it comes to how substance abuse can affect your brain, your gender matters—regardless of whether the “drug of choice” is cocaine, heroin, alcohol, or another substance.
Mounting scientific evidence attests to this gender disparity in how addiction affects men’s and women’s brains, starting with more recent findings into the neurological effects of stimulants. What follows are key highlights of these findings.
According to a 2015 study published in the journal Radiology, long-term abuse of stimulants like cocaine, amphetamines, and/or methamphetamines has a distinct impact on the brains of men and women. In the study, researchers from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine examined the structural brain magnetic imaging (MRI) scans of men and women who had been using stimulants for nearly 16 years and who were similar in age. The researchers were then able to compare these scans to those for healthy men and women without a drug abuse problem.