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Gender Differences in Course of Illness

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One of the most consistent findings in studies focused on gender differences in substance use disorders is the increased vulnerability of women to the adverse medical and psychosocial consequences of substance use (Chatham et al. 1999; Gentilello et al. 2000; Henskens et al. 2005; Hernandez-Avila et al. 2004; Mann et al. 2005). Women appear to advance more rapidly than men from initial to regular use and to first treatment episode (Hernandez-Avila et al. 2004; Johnson et al. 2005; Piazza et al. 1989; Randall et al. 1999). Despite fewer years of use and smaller quantities of substances consumed, when women enter treatment their substance use severity is generally equivalent to men, and women average significantly more medical, psychiatric, and adverse social consequences from substance use than do men (Hernandez-Avila et al. 2004; Mann et al. 2005; Piazza et al. 1989; Randall et al. 1999). This has been coined the "telescoping" of substance use disorders in women, and it is likely that differences in biological as well as psychosocial factors contribute to this gender-specific phenomenon.

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