Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused drugs around the world, trailing not far behind alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. The drug is associated with increased risk of addiction and negative impact on physical, mental and emotional health for both men and women.
However, cocaine affects men and women in very different ways, and those differences are important when it comes to drug and alcohol treatment or rehab. If men and women respond to cocaine differently, they also respond to treatment differently.
One research study involved people of a similar age who had been abstinent from cocaine and other stimulants for 13 months. MRI exams revealed that cocaine negatively affected the gray matter of both men and women, but the brains of females displayed more damage and significantly reduced volume of gray matter, especially in parts of the brain responsible for emotions, habit formation, impulsivity and decision making.
It also appears that cocaine affects women differently at various times during the monthly cycle, and that intensity of withdrawal and cravings may also fluctuate. A study reported by NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) suggests that women may be less sensitive to cocaine than men, and the decreased sensitivity to the drug is more pronounced during the menstrual period.