Recent Research Core Findings
Our Addictive Behaviors Core is examining gender-related questions in a number of addictive behaviors, including smoking, overeating and gambling, as well as alcohol and other substance use. The key questions being investigated include:
- How do girls and women develop problems with addictive behaviors?
- How do these behaviors present themselves in women?
- And, what can be done to prevent and treat such problematic behaviors?
We have shown that:
- Women and girls exposed to addictive behaviors, as compared to men and boys, develop addiction-related problems more rapidly - described as a "telescoping" phenomenon
- Gender-specific success in smoking “quit attempts” is affected by the type of smoking cessation intervention and by the phase of the menstrual cycle in which a quit attempt occurs
- Addictive behaviors, including gambling, are more closely related to mood disorders in girls and women as compared to boys and men
- Video gaming is associated with aggressive behaviors in girls but not boys
- Women and men have different expectations related to alcohol consumption, with women reporting different social and sexual outcomes from drinking
- Women as compared to men who are children of individuals with alcoholism appear at greater risk for psychiatric disorders in adulthood
- Girls and boys involved in extracurricular activities were less likely to smoke marijuana, and this protective effect was stronger in girls
- Cocaine-dependent women show greater brain activations to stress cues while cocaine-dependent men show greater activations to drug cues, suggesting different interventions might be helpful for women and men.
These findings indicate the presences of clinically relevant gender-related differences in a broad range of addictive processes and highlight the need for incorporating gender-specific considerations in both the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders.