Gender Differences in Prevalence of Substance Use Disorders among Individuals with Lifetime Exposure to Substances: Results from a Large Representative Sample

Authors

  • Shaul Lev-Ran MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Addictions Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Social and Epidemiological Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • Translational Addiction Research Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Yann Le Strat MD,

    1. Translational Addiction Research Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Addictions Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    3. INSERM U894, Team 1, Center of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, Paris, France
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  • Sameer Imtiaz BSc,

    1. Translational Addiction Research Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Jürgen Rehm PhD,

    1. Social and Epidemiological Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Department of Psychiatry, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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  • Bernard Le Foll MD, PhD

    1. Translational Addiction Research Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Addictions Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    3. Departments of Psychiatry, Pharmacology, Family and Community Medicine, and Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Address correspondence to Dr. Lev-Ran, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Russell Street, Room 2035, Toronto, ON, M5S2S1, Canada. E-mail: shauli.levran@gmail.com.

Abstract

Background and Objectives

Research regarding substance use and substance use disorders (SUDs) shows significant gender differences in prevalence of substance use and dependence. Though lifetime exposure to substances is higher among males, previous reports have not regarded gender differences in prevalence of SUDs among individuals formerly exposed to substances. In addition, though substance abuse is particularly important when exploring gender differences, previous reports have largely focused on rates of transition to substance dependence alone. In this study, we explored gender differences in prevalence of SUDs among individuals with lifetime exposure to substances using a single diagnostic category (abuse or dependence).

Methods

We analyzed 11 different categories of substances: heroin, cocaine, cannabis, nicotine, alcohol, hallucinogens, inhalants, sedatives, tranquilizers, opioids, and amphetamines. Data were derived from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (Wave 1, n = 43,093). The impact of gender on prevalence of SUDs among individuals with lifetime exposure to substances was assessed with odds ratios (ORs) using logistic regressions and adjusted for socio-demographic factors.

Results

Our results show that among individuals with lifetime exposure to substances, males had a significantly higher prevalence of alcohol (OR = 2.95), sedatives (OR = 2.00), cannabis (OR = 1.93), tranquilizers (OR = 1.64), opioids (OR = 1.54), hallucinogens (OR = 1.31), and cocaine (OR = 1.26) use disorders compared with females.

Conclusions and Scientific Significance

Using a single broad diagnostic category highlights gender differences in the prevalence of SUDs among individuals with former exposure to substances. Specifically, the significant gender differences found for alcohol, sedatives, and cannabis use disorders may be important for tailoring preventive measures targeted at reducing rates of SUDs among males using these substances. (Am J Addict 2012;XX:000–000) (Am J Addict 2013;22:7-13)

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