Women face tough challenges in overcoming addiction, reports the Harvard Mental Health Letter

Women often find it harder than men to recover from addictions, reports the January 2010 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

They face other challenges as well. Women tend to progress more quickly than men from use of an addictive substance to dependence on it (a phenomenon known as telescoping). They also develop medical or social consequences of addiction faster than men, and are more susceptible to relapse after quitting.

Take tobacco use as one example. Nearly 71 million Americans—about 35% of men and 23% of women—currently smoke. Women who smoke are more likely than men to develop lung cancer, and they're twice as likely to have a heart attack. But women find it more difficult than men to kick the habit, and are more likely to start smoking again if they do manage to quit.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »