Study Suggests Gender Differences in Root Causes of Addiction

Colored areas indicate brain activity in cocaine-dependent subjects when presented with stress or drug stimuli

A new brain imaging study conducted at the Yale School of Medicine found that addiction and cravings might have different roots in men and women.

The researchers conducted MRI scans of 30 cocaine-dependent individuals and 36 control subjects who were recreational drinkers. While undergoing the brain scans, the subjects were presented with personalized situations or events that had been stressful for them. They were also presented with cues suggesting cocaine or alcohol.

The results showed that when women were confronted with stressful situations, there was high activity in the part of the brain associated with craving and addiction. But for men, activity in that particular region of the brain was heightened more when they were presented with cues associated with drugs.

The authors of the study conclude that stress reduction therapy might be more beneficial for women addicts than for men. In contrast, traditional substance abuse programs associated with behavior modification would be more effective with men.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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