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How Drugs Affect Men’s Brains

While women experience greater relief from opioid painkillers, men are more likely to overdose on similar drugs

Many people assume that, aside from reproductive organs, men and women’s bodies are basically the same. However, this is not entirely true, as many subtle differences between men and women cause them to experience drugs differently. For instance, many drugs cause side effects in women but not men, so each Anchorage resident must learn how drugs affect him uniquely.

Women are often prescribed drugs that have only been tested on men, because women have historically been excluded from clinical drug trials. Such tests has led to considerable knowledge on how certain drugs affect men, but little information on how the same drugs affect women.

Research on How Drugs Affect Men

An article in the Scientific American describes the history of drug research and how women were banned from clinical trials until the 1990s. The banning of women from clinical trials was an unfortunate occurrence, especially considering that women are currently prescribed psychotropic drugs twice as often as men. However, recent research is bringing to light the different effects that drugs can have on men and women. This research can help medical professionals make more informed decisions about the drugs they prescribe.

Due to the extent of past research on how drugs affect men, men are more likely to receive accurate prescription dosages and useful information about how certain substances will affect their minds and bodies. According to the New York Times, many researchers believe that women experience significantly more adverse side effects due to taking medications than men do.

According to Scientific American, women tend to be more sensitive to certain drugs than men due to factors such as hormones, body composition and metabolism. However, this fact does not mean that using certain drugs is necessarily safer for men than for women. For example, while women experience greater relief from opioid painkillers, men are more likely to overdose on similar drugs.

How Men’s Brains Respond to Nicotine and Cocaine

The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded two studies that explored the differences in the way men’s and women’s brains respond to nicotine, alcohol and cocaine. In the study on nicotine, researchers found that women experience mood improvements from smoking that men do not. Women also tend to have more difficulty quitting. In the study, participants wore a nicotine patch while performing a task; the patch increased brain metabolism for men and decreased it for women. However, without the nicotine patch, however, women displayed a higher brain metabolism, but nicotine equalized the brain activity of the male and female participants.

Another study explored the use of cocaine and alcohol. Overall, men and women reported similar feelings related to cocaine and alcohol use, although alcohol caused women to experience a higher heart rate than men. Another difference was that women consistently reported higher levels of wellbeing after using cocaine. According to Dr. McCance-Katz, who led the study, a more intense experience of wellbeing may increase the risk of overdose, as euphoria can keep the body from realizing when it is time to stop using a drug. Furthermore, the higher rates of wellbeing reported among women could indicate that men are less sensitive to cocaine.

Men and Women Respond Differently to Psychiatric Medications

Women tend to have more body fat than men, and, according to Everyday Health, body fat percentage affects the way fat soluble medications are distributed throughout the body. Medications that fit into this category are dissolved in fat before entering the brain, and most of the medications used in psychiatry are fat soluble, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and antipsychotics. One example of how psychiatric drugs affect men and women differently is that men do not respond as well as women do to certain antidepressants, but the reason for this phenomenon is unknown.

Men and Women Respond Differently to Sleep Aides

Everyday Health also describes how sleep medications affect men and women differently. Sleep aides such as Ambien leave a woman’s body at a slower rate, which causes women to experience the effects of the drug for a longer period of time. Some women report having difficulty performing tasks such as driving the day after they take Ambien or other sleep aides. The difference in how this drug affects men and women is so pronounced that the Federal Drug Administration allows men to take twice as much as the recommended dosage for women. Anchorage residents who take these powerful drugs should be sure they take follow their prescriptions closely to avoid danger.

Treatment for Anchorage Drug Addicts

If you or an Anchorage loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, rest assured that you can find help today. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about your addiction treatment. With the right treatment plan, you or your loved one can achieve a full recovery to lead a long, healthy life. Do not hesitate to call us at anytime, as our helpline is available 24 hours a day. Our admissions coordinators are always available for you, so feel free to call us now.