Are men more prone to addiction than women?

When viewing all the people I know, there are far more males with addiction problems, except for cigarette smoking, which seems to involve both sexes equally. Is this common throughout society, or unique to my circle of acquaintances?

Sounds anecdotal to you.

In my own circle of friends/family/acquaintances:

cigarettes - even
alcohol - even
hard drugs - men
gambling - men
sex - women
porn - men
shopping - women
video games - men
hoarding - women
coffee - even
diet coke - women

There may not be a clear cut answer. This article says that men abuse drugs more often than women, but women become addicted to drugs more often than men.And men and women will abuse and become addicted to different substances. There are huge differences between types of addictions also, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and opiate addictions manifest very differently and data is gathered on the rates of addiction for those substances in different ways.

Directly addressing the question in thread title, the article seems to say women are more prone to addiction. However, that is just one article, and it doesn’t show all of the details of the study.

I am – would I be if I as a woman?

Agreed. Furthermore, what makes it even more difficult to answer this question is the fact that addiction and abuse are social constructs. They are definitions made by social animals used to define a certain set of circumstances, thus they are subject to interpretation and massive disagreement.

For example, I remember in the 90’s (early 2000’s) where “binge drinking” became the new great threat. Binge drinking was defined as any person who consumed 3 or more drinks in an hour. Well, every person who ever had a double shot and a beer chaser was suddenly a binge drinker… kind of a silly situation right?

The point is, everything when it comes to these matters is a social construct.

So, to answer your question, we must ask you: What is the definition of addiction? Is it physical addiction, psychological addiction? Is it drinking more than 5 drinks a day, or using heroin once a week, twice a week, ever in the last month, every day?

In some circles, anyone who uses heroin is an addict, but is that necessarily true? Are there not people out there who use heroin on Friday nights and then never again for another week? But wait, maybe they are an addict if they HAVE to use heroin every Friday night.

Most AA/NA purists say a person in recovery can never use any substance again. They have no acceptance for moderation, they just say either you are in recovery or you are out (relapse). Is that the right definition?

Bottom line my friend, WAY too difficult a question to ask without massive examination of what we are talking about.

Wow. You know lots of addicts.

The definition of addiction is not some nebulous, unknowable thing. It’s the continued presence of a particular behavior (drugs, sex, eating, etc.) despite the negative consequences of this behavior on the persons life. Those negative consequences can vary; health-related, financial, relationship-related and more.

And that was purely a result of mass marketing by the cigarette companies targeting women.

Once upon a time, cigarette smoking by women was considered scandalously improper. Then the marketers of death by tobacco realized that fully half the potential market was untapped, and they made certain to tap that market.

Agreed, but do you admit that the definition of negative consequences is also a social construct.

I am not trying to be overly argumentative here but last week I had a friend of mine who was an avid rock climber. He did it with gusto, and absolute love for 20 years. He made seemingly impossible climbs and subjected his body to extreme conditions and stress for this love. Last week, at the age of 44, he had a hip replacement.

Was his continued behavior of rock climbing an addiction because it resulted in substantial negative consequences? I mean, at 44 and with a hip surgery, stuff has really gotten real for him. I know because I had to sit at a bar and drink a few with him in consolation and support for a life where he will never again be rock climbing. He was genuinely saddened by this and yes, it put strain on his marriage and everything else. He is adapting though.

Is he an addict and in recovery?

Based on your definition my friend, every person who is overweight could potentially be an addict. Every person who exercises a ton could be an addict. Every person who drinks a lot of coffee is an addict. Well, quite frankly, I think you would be hard pressed to find any American without some sort of behavior which has negative life consequences.

I think both you and I would agree that there are degrees of addiction and those degrees are set by social constructs. There is a big difference between giving 40 blowjobs in an alley for a rock of crack and the guy who is 50 pounds overweight and facing pre-diabetes because he loves beer.

So, once again, for the OP we must define specifics before we can talk about sex differences in this.

I completely agree that addiction exists on a spectrum. And yes, i’d say the examples you give are valid examples of addiction, albeit on the lower end of the spectrum. Negative consequences alone don’t make addiction, its continuing the behavior despite those bad consequences.

So someone who works out obsessively, in and of itself, doesn’t qualify as an addict. However, if this exercising began to affect the person’s employment/intimate relationships/health in a negative manner (working out in lieu of spending time with family or not going to work because you need to exercise or spending all your money on exercise-related products) and they keep engaging in it, I’d say that the person is addicted to exercise.

Similarly, i think many people are addicted to food. For the same reasons. And as to your rock-climbing friend, no he’s not an addict because he stopped the behavior (rock-climbing) once it negatively affected his life. He didn’t attempt to continue rock climbing despite having had a hip replacement.

I understand your point, but to be honest, could it not be argued that my friend only hit rock bottom when he needed a hip replacement?

It took that to make him stop. He was doing damage all along, he knew it. He had aches and pains, maybe he was an addict. Also, he now realizes that a hip replacement around 40 means he is in for one heck of a ride at 60. In some ways, he is worse off than the obese 40 year old.

Much like football player. I guess we could throw them in the mix, they are addicts for playing football when they know it will cause pain and destroy their bodies.

Or, maybe, addict is a social construct and subject to interpretation and definition based upon the socially acceptable sacrifices/costs one may make for a particular behavior.

I humbly ask you to please recognize these are social constructs and humans engage in many behaviors beyond the point of healthiness. By some definitions, almost all of us are addicts in some way.

So, to have fruitful discussion about the chance of being an addict based on sex, I am simply submitting we need to completely define what it is to be an addict.

Women may be more susceptible to certain social constructs of addiction, whereas men may be subject to other ones. But, I submit, almost all humans engage in behaviors which are deleterious to their health, life or relationships on a daily basis.

Ok, so how would you define addiction?

I wish I was as articulate as some of you are here, that was a very well written post.
I have spent a lot of time around addicts for a lot of years and am an addict myself. I say recovering addict because I quit using drugs and alcohol 26 years ago. At the same time I may have just traded addictions, I started making bows and arrows as a hobby when I quit the other drugs and took it way beyond hobby level to the point it took over every aspect of my life. I sacrificed financially, socially and personally yet I came out smelling like a rose as far as reputation and my basic identity are concerned. In other words, I know I was an addict, my girlfriend knows I am an addict but the rest of the world just thinks I have become accomplished at this.

I think it is safe to say that if any behavior occupies a disproportionate amount of time in your head in spite of negative or even valueless consequences you might be an addict.

Thank you very much HB.

Mr. Ambivalid,

Would you agree this is a good starting definition my friend?

The OP’s question was whether men are more prone to addiction than women.

So, perhaps we have a definition now.

Are men more likely to pursue a behavior that occupies a disproportionate amount of time in your head despite negative or even valueless consequences?

In this question I must admit I am not qualified to answer, but it is a very interesting discussion point.

Interesting user name and question combo.

On the definition of addiction: Shouldn’t it be overall negative consequences rather than negative consequences?

Because if all it takes is negative consequences, then anything that has even slight downsides (like mild side effects of medications or some soreness from working out) imply addiction.

How is this different from how I defined addiction?

Yes, negative consequences in aggregate.