February 1989

A Comparison of Male and Female Cocaine Abusers

Author Affiliations

From the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Mass (Drs Griffin, Weiss, Mirin, and Lange); the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Drs Griffin, Weiss, and Mirin); and the Westwood Lodge Hospital, Westwood, Mass (Dr Mirin).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1989;46(2):122-126. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1989.01810020024005

• Little has been written about the differences between male and female cocaine abusers. We therefore compared sociodemographic characteristics, reasons for cocaine use, drug effects, depressive symptoms, and psychiatric diagnoses in 95 men and 34 women hospitalized for cocaine abuse. Men were more likely to be employed, to hold higher status jobs, and to be self-supporting. Women were more likely to cite specific reasons for drug use, while men tended to use cocaine as part of a larger pattern of antisocial behavior. Women were diagnosed more often as having major depression, and their depressive symptoms improved much more slowly than men's when drug free. These findings suggest that women cocaine abusers may initially experience more residual problems, eg, depression and job dissatisfaction, than men after becoming drug free. Drug treatment centers should be alert to possible differences based on gender.