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Drug Addiction is Different for Girls and Boys, Treatment Should be Too

Girls and boys have very different needs when it comes to substance abuse treatment. Therapies that may work for a girl may not be optimum for a boy and vice versa. Parents and guardians who understand that drug addiction is different for girls and boys can play a greater role in an adolescent’s recovery. Experienced clinicians can work with you and your child to address these needs and develop a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan.

Trauma and Mood Disorders

Studies show that girls battling with addiction often struggle with a co-occurring disorder such as major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many factors like bullying, concerns with self-esteem or personal appearance, or physical or sexual abuse can all encourage substance abuse. Social media can become a source for emotional distress from bullying.

Behavioral and Learning Problems

Boys are more likely to channel their internal distress into external acts. They may get into fights, neglect their grades, and receive multiple detentions or suspensions for disorderly conduct. They are more likely than girls to have co-occurring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or conduct disorders. Boys with a substance addiction are also at greater risk of juvenile justice issues. “Drug cliques” often commit unlawful acts such as theft and vandalism. In extreme cases, they may resort to arson or assault.

Choice of Substance & Number of Substances Abused

A joint study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, the University of Minnesota, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health found that boys were more likely to develop a dependence on multiple substances. Adderall and codeine are often used to enhance the high from smoking marijuana. Drugs and alcohol taken in tandem can produce various effects, some life-threatening. The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that girls aged 12 to 17 chose alcohol as their primary substance more than twice as often as boys, while boys were 20 percent more likely to choose marijuana. Overall, marijuana was the most common primary choice of drug among both genders. (60 percent for girls and 80 percent for boys).

How Can Parents Help?

You can take many steps to help your teen on the path to recovery. Keep drugs and alcohol out of the home, and lock or hide prescription medications. Show your love and support when your teen attends treatment. Work with treatment counselors in family therapy sessions. Your teen is already dealing with immense stress. Communicate openly and honestly.

The Value of Individualized Treatment

While girls and boys generally have different needs, the best treatment plan looks beyond gender and considers your child as a unique person. Individualized treatment plans help your child come to terms with their situation and develop strategies for lifelong healing. The accredited Aspire Education program will help your child stay on track to a bright future during treatment. Call us today and learn how your child can benefit from adolescent specific treatment. To learn more about how drug addiction can we different for boys and girls and how we can help you overcome addiction, give us a call at 877-466-0620 Sources

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Gender Differences in Primary Substance of Abuse across Age Groups
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide