A new study claims women are more likely to get addicted to drugs because of their hormonal cycles.
This new study conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University (US) is particularly significant because no other research has taken into account this factor for women and drug addiction. Previous research has mainly focused on the mechanisms of this type of addiction at play that affect men.
For the study, male and female rats were able to give themselves cocaine by being able to push a lever. A light would automatically come on when the lever was pushed. The process was designed because it is similar to environmental cues that are present when humans take drugs.
Female rats made stronger associations with the light when their circulating hormone levels were high. During this time they were more likely to push the lever. The study found when fertility-related hormone levels are high women tend to learn faster and seek rewards by making strong associations to cues in their environment."Women becoming addicted to drugs may be a fundamentally different process than men," Erin Calipari, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, told a news portal. Adding, "It's important to understand this, because it's the first step in developing treatments that are actually effective," said Calipari.
The team now wants to understand how these hormonal shifts impact a woman's brain so that they can develop better treatment options. For now, the findings could benefit treatment centres to better educate women about the risks.