Female Drug Abuse More Due to Genetic Factors

Two new studies found differences in the way females and males use drugs.

The first study from the National Institute of Health’s Office of Research on Women’s Health found that young women have a 60% to 70% higher rate of abusing stimulants as well as painkillers containing opium compared to young men their age. Dr. Vivienne Pinn, author of the report, said that females are using stimulants for weight control and to improve academic performance.

Young women abuse drugs more than males their age because of genetic factors, according to research by Professor Judy Silberg of the Virginia Commonwealth University. Her study involved 1070 twin adolescents, ages 12 to 17 years old, found that genetics probably influenced girls, but environmental factors were a greater determinant for boys.

"Risk factors for substance abuse are different in boys and girls," she said. "In girls, there was a significant genetic influence on all substance abuse in adolescence. With boys, environmental factors, including dysfunctional family and peers using drugs and alcohol, had a pervasive influence," said Dr. Silberg.

This study appears in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.