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Study Suggests Gender-Specific Cocaine Dependence Treatment Could be Beneficial

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A new study suggests men and women might benefit from different treatment for cocaine dependence.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine conducted brain scans on 30 cocaine-dependent people, and 36 who were recreational drinkers. While participants were undergoing the scans, they were presented with personalized situations or events that they had indicated were stressful, as well as cues involving cocaine or alcohol.

People who were cocaine-dependent showed greater activation in broad areas of the brain linked to addiction and motivation, compared with the recreational drinkers. Patterns of activation were markedly different in men and women when presented with stress or drug cues, according to Science Daily. Lead researcher Marc Potenza said the findings suggest women with cocaine dependence may benefit from stress-reduction treatment that specifically targets these cravings, while men may benefit more from 12-step programs or cognitive behavioral therapy.

“There are differences in treatment outcomes for people with addictions who experience stress-induced drug cravings and those whose cravings are induced by drug cues,” Potenza said in a Yale news release. “It is important to understand the biologic mechanisms that underlie these cravings.”

The findings are scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

1 Response to this article

  1. Jim Sharp / January 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Gender-specific treatment should not be restricted to persons addicted to cocaine. Men and women differ in very significant ways physiologically, developmentally, psychologically, socially, etc. Their experiences using and their motivations for recovery differ dramatically. One example of differing treatment needs: in general males often are dealing with hostility and resentment towards authority and excessive self-reliance to the neglect of support-seeking. For the women, the focus tends to be on issues of poor self-esteem and dependency on abusive relationships. In addition, mixing males and females in residential treatment is a recipe for disaster as abusive relationships frequently become replicated in the treatment setting. The Van Dyke Addiction Treatment Center (where I worked before retirement) began separate, gender-specific treatment in 1986. This had the effect of significantly enhancing the treatment outcomes of both genders.

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