Addicts' cravings have different roots in men and women

January 30, 2012

When it comes to addiction, sex matters.

A new brain imaging study by Yale School of Medicine researchers suggests stress robustly activates areas of the brain associated with craving in cocaine-dependent women, while drug cues activate similar in cocaine-dependent men. The study, expected to be published online Jan. 31 in the , suggests men and women with might benefit more from different treatment options.

"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," said Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry, child study, and neurobiology and first author of the study. "It is important to understand the biologic mechanisms that underlie these cravings."

The researchers conducted scans of 30 cocaine-dependent individuals and 36 control subjects who were recreational drinkers. While undergoing brain scans, researchers then presented subjects with personalized cues (situations or events) the participants had indicated were personally stressful and other cues involving cocaine or alcohol.

As expected, cocaine-dependent individuals showed greater activation in broad regions of the brain linked to addiction and motivation than the control subjects. Patterns of activation between the groups, however, differed markedly in men and women when presented with stress or drug cues.

Potenza said the findings suggest that women with cocaine dependence might benefit from stress-reduction therapies that specifically target these cravings. Men, on the other hand, might derive more benefit from elements of or 12-step programs based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Explore further: Abnormal brain structure linked to chronic cocaine abuse

Related Stories

Abnormal brain structure linked to chronic cocaine abuse

June 21, 2011
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have identified abnormal brain structures in the frontal lobe of cocaine users' brains which are linked to their compulsive cocaine-using behaviour. Their findings were published ...

Recommended for you

Communicating in a foreign language takes emotion out of decision making

August 16, 2017
If you could save the lives of five people by pushing another bystander in front of a train to his death, would you do it? And should it make any difference if that choice is presented in a language you speak, but isn't your ...

US antidepressant use jumps 65 percent in 15 years

August 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—The number of Americans who say they've taken an antidepressant over the past month rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014, a new government survey finds.

Child's home learning environment predicts 5th grade academic skills

August 15, 2017
Children whose parents provide them with learning materials like books and toys and engage them in learning activities and meaningful conversations in infancy and toddlerhood are likely to develop early cognitive skills that ...

Precision medicine opens the door to scientific wellness preventive approaches to suicide

August 15, 2017
Researchers have developed a more precise way of diagnosing suicide risk, by developing blood tests that work in everybody, as well as more personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality that they have newly ...

Obesity and depression are entwined, yet scientists don't know why

August 15, 2017
About 15 years ago, Dr. Sue McElroy, a psychiatrist in Mason, Ohio, started noticing a pattern. People came to see her because they were depressed, but they frequently had a more visible ailment as well: They were heavy.

Givers really are happier than takers

August 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—Generosity really is its own reward, with the brain seemingly hardwired for happiness in response to giving, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.