Author(s): Authors Smith K
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Excerpt Background: National data consistently show that gender is an important factor to consider when examining patterns of substance abuse, such as overall prevalence rates and substances of choice. For example, males are more likely than females to report marijuana and alcohol use, whereas females are more likely than males to report nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Differences in substance abuse patterns among men and women vary by age. Data from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that men aged 18 or older have almost twice the rate of substance dependence as adult women, but among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of substance dependence for both genders is the same (6.9\%). Methods: The analyses in this report are based on the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) data for 2011. The TEDS collects data on admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities across the United States and can be used to examine differences in primary substance of abuse among males and females by age. TEDS collects information on up to three substances of abuse that led to the treatment episode. The main substance abused by the client is known as the "primary substance of abuse." For each admission, data on primary substance of abuse are reported at the time of treatment entry. Results: In the 2011 TEDS, about 609,000 (33.1\%) of the 1.84 million admissions to substance abuse treatment were female and 1.23 million (66.9\%) were male. A larger proportion of female admissions aged 12 to 17 reported alcohol as their primary substance of abuse compared to male admissions (21.7 vs. 10.5\%). Marijuana was the more common primary substance of abuse among male than female admissions aged 12 to 17 (80.7\% and 60.8\%, respectively) and 18 to 24 (33.4\% and 22.1\%, respectively). Within the 65 or older age group, the proportion of female admissions reporting primary abuse of prescription pain relievers (e.g., oxycodone) was nearly 3 times that of their male counterparts (7.2\% and 2.8\%, respectively). Conclusion: This report highlights important differences in primary substance of abuse between males and females admitted to substance abuse treatment. These differences were found at various stages of life, from adolescence through older adulthood, particularly for abuse of alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine/amphetamines, and prescription pain relievers. Although this report does not explain the potential reasons for these differences, it brings awareness to the fact that they exist. This may help inform the design of prevention, outreach, and treatment services for specific gender and age groups across multiple settings, including primary care.
This article was published in Gender Differences in Primary Substance of Abuse across Age Groups
and referenced in Journal of Womens Health Care